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Mental health unit backs Medicaid expansion

Published: March 15, 2013 4:00 AM

We are writing to support Governor Kasich's proposal to expand Medicaid coverage to up to 138 perecent of poverty level that will cover more of Ohio's uninsured citizens. Expanding Medicaid will provide additional access for Ohioans in need of mental health and addiction services while helping to ensure a healthier workforce for Ohio. We urge residents of Portage County to support the expansion of Medicaid included in the biennial budget, which will bring federal dollars back to Ohio to benefit community members.

In the past five years, Portage County has been cut over $2.2 million in state funding for mental health and addiction services, resulting in people waiting weeks for treatment and often not getting all of the services they need. These cuts have severely affected the ability of our local agencies that provide outstanding services to meet the increasing demand. These agencies are Coleman Professional Services, Townhall II, Children's Advantage and Family & Community Services.

Many of our residents who need mental health/addiction treatment are productive working citizens but often cannot afford to pay for services due to low wages, no health insurance or an insurance plan that either limits or does not provide coverage for mental health/addiction care. In addition to state funds, the Mental Health & Recovery Board receives local levy funds to help purchase services for county residents who cannot afford to pay. Each year, a certain amount is budgeted and the increased demand is quickly depleting local resources.

While the recent national debate on mental illness has raised expectations of better care, the reality is the dollars will not follow the argument unless communities ask our elected representatives to support ways to cover care for family, friends, neighbors and community members who are the working backbone of Ohio. The Medicaid expansion will help. Governor Kasich sees the long term benefit to support Ohioans who are struggling.

Please support Governor Kasich's plan to expand Medicaid coverage as this will meet the needs of at least some of our citizens who are struggling with mental health/addiction issues. You can show your support by contacting our Portage County legislative delegation: State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, 75th District; State Rep. Matt Lynch, 76th District; and State Senator John Eklund, 18th District. You can find their contact information at www.ohio.gov or contact the Mental Health & Recovery Board at 330-673-1756 or at mhrbpc@gwis.com.

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William Nome, Chairman,

Joel Mowrey, Executive Director

Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County

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trawl Mar 16, 2013 3:12 PM

There seems to be (willful?) confusion between Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act and Private Health coverage. People pretending the ACA (Obamacare) = Private Health Insurance = Medicaid is enough to drive someone ... to need mental health services.

trawl Mar 16, 2013 3:01 PM

This isn't private health insurance.

vec Mar 16, 2013 10:35 AM

I have to say that there are many people who do take advantage of the social services that are available, there are many who are not. As a person who just recently received disability, I have worked since I was 14/15 years old. I am now 50. Once you get your disability award your medicare premium is taken out of your monthly benefits. I have co-pays just like everyone else. My benefits are about 1/3 of what I used to make when I could work.

Mental illness is a whole different ball game. My husband is bi-polar and has PTSD. This illness is very difficult to treat without insurance or any services that are available for him to get the help he needs. He is not lazy nor unintelligent. He is mentally ill. That means his brain does not work right. People have a tendency to assume lazy but they are so far off the mark with that. I have to watch every day as someone that I have known and loved since we were in elementary school, someone who would give a stranger the shirt off his back if he thought it would help, struggle to get out of bed. He has worked since he was 14/15 years old too, he can't anymore. Who is going to hire someone who can not work every day? Who is going to hire someone who can't get out of bed sometimes for more then a month? He is on medication but we can't afford to get him the treatment he needs to regulate it, which can take years to get right, so that he can enjoy all the things in life that others take for granted. Have you even looked at the suicide rate for people who are mentally ill? Their feeling of this is never going to end or get better is overwhelming. I know for us we deal with this everyday. To be able to get him the help he needs just to live like everyone else takes for granted would be the greatest gift for our family and for others just like us. How would you like to feel like you can't leave the house because you are scared to leave your loved one alone? That's what the families of the mentally ill feel everyday. So before you judge people or families who need these services, walk just one day in our shoes. I would venture to believe you would then understand how much these type of services are needed and necessary for the community.

anonymous Mar 15, 2013 6:58 PM

This is a problem that is very difficult to solve. Mental Health is very expensive and very long term. This will surely run up the cost of Health insurance. That means that you and I will have to pay more because these people can not. So we pay for ours and theirs. This in turn means that we will have less money for our wants and needs. Which means less spending and that is bad for the economy. The worst part is that it will not work.

Take the Medicare program. Under President Johnson he said that everyone going under Medicare would create enough funds to help the poor with their medical problems, it could be one plan with everyone sharing the cost. Well the results of that was that instead of paid Medical insurance, being part of people retirement plans, you had to pay for it instead of the company you worked for. On top of that they limited the coverage so much that you have to pay for a second plan, and in some cases a third plan, to cover what Medicare does not cover and still the so called poor can not pay for it.

The only way anything like this will work is for everyone to have the same kind of insurance that covers the same thing and we all pay the same amount. That would mean that the government would have to pay all the medical bills and all doctors and hospitals would have to charge the same. Everyone , including the poor, would have to pay the premium to the government in a form of tax.

trawl Mar 15, 2013 12:20 PM

This isn't "Obamacare" but some may still be able to get help with their ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome).

little_r_republican Mar 15, 2013 9:03 AM

"Some people say government health care is like dealing with the DMV. Worse, it might be like dealing with the IRS...Washington just released a draft version of the form that a family of three might will have to fill out to apply for a health care plan under Obamacare. Its frighteningly similar to a 1040 long form. It runs 15 pages, with 21 steps, some with multiple parts. And thats just part one, to apply for financial help. If its approved by three different agencies, including the IRS, you move on to the next form. They havent written that one yet, but Im betting it will cost a lot of trees their lives. An aide to Mitch McConnell released photo of a print-out of all the Obamacare regulations that have been written just so far. Its a stack of papers that towers seven feet, three inches high. It doesnt quite hit the ceiling, but you will, once you have to deal with it. Maybe the next form they create should be one to apply for medical care to treat a big pain in the rear."