Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spread the Word: Repeal the IMD Exclusion

My nephew sent me this message today:

Hi Ilene, Dad and I had a long discussion over Easter weekend regarding the IMD exclusion. This exclusion is nothing short of disgusting. It is a prime example of how the poor and mis-fortunate are treated in our country. I apologize but I was never fully aware of how, why, and when this exclusion was enacted. Let me know how I can help!

This was my reply:
Hey Mike - thanks for writing! 
First of all, don't feel bad you didn't know - I didn't know about it until a year or so ago. It seems like most people in Congress don't really understand it either, which gets me to my first point...

The first thing you can do is write to your members of Congress and ask them to support a bill that has already been introduced to repeal the Medicaid Institutes for Mental Diseases (IMD) Exclusion. It is HR 619, and it was introduced in Jan. 2009, by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas. It only has one other co-sponsor and has been sitting in committee for almost 16 months.

Explain to your members of Congress that the partial repeal of the IMD Exclusion, offered by the new health insurance reform law, would not have helped Paul because it only pays for emergency hospitalization and stabilization. Paul never had trouble accessing these services - and Medicaid paid for it. What Paul needed was long-term care. Remind your members of Congress that someone with Alzheimer's can get long-term care with Medicaid subsidies, but someone with Schizophrenia cannot - that is discrimination, pure and simple.
When your members of Congress start to bring up the costs involved in paying for their care, explain to them that "we" the "tax payers" are already paying taxes to support the extra burden on our local ER departments, Ambulance companies, local hospital psych wards, police departments, courts and prisons. How they figure out how to redistribute where our money goes to cover long-term care for people with Schizophrenia, as we do for people with chronic lung disease or Alzheimer's, is their job - that's what we pay them to do - they should figure it out because "we" are already paying for this through local, state and federal taxes. The problem is that the people are still suffering because they are homeless or in prison, rather than in treatment.

The other thing I have started to do is to put pressure on my state legislator. The states need to pressure the federal government to repeal the IMD Exclusion. The states have been bearing the full burden of costs to provide long-term care, which is why they keep pushing them out quicker and sicker. The states have been balancing their budgets on the backs of people like Paul for decades. If the federal government helped with some of the costs, perhaps they would get the care they need.
Finally, you can ask all of your friends to do the same thing. The more people we educate on this issue, the more people will react the same way you have and will force the issue.

For more information on the IMD Exclusion - you can direct people to the treatment advocacy center website - or just google the term "IMD Exclusion" - there is a lot of information on it on the web.  Also, go to this article I had published in the Op-Ed News website.  When you get to the bottom, there will be an "Action" section with a  link for you to write to your members of Congress. 
Thanks again Mike!

And thanks to all of my 9 followers so far that may read this and write to their members of Congress.   Now tell your friends!

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