ACA Repeal: Stories from the Frontlines of Mental Health Treatment and Care
As we know, the legislative efforts to repeal and replace the Affodrable Care Act (ACA) —including or especially a potential rollback of the Act’s Medicaid expansion — carry particularly and criticially high risks for men, women and families in treatment for addiction and mental health disorders.
Nationwide, 24 million of us stand to lose Medicaid coverage, while here in Massachusetts, an estimated 300,000 MassHealth-covered families and individuals could lose access to affordable care.
In last week’s blog post, we promised to bring you a series of stories from the frontlines of behavioral health — real-life patient vignettes that demonstrate how access to publicly-funded care changes (or saves) our clients’ or patients’ lives.
Here’s this week’s story from one of our outpatient counseling clinics on the North Shore:
In her early 20s, “Debbie” was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder and was hospitalized numerous times.
Shortly after her diagnosis, she gave birth to her son and was forced to give up custody to the father, from whom she is now divorced.
Fast forward to the present day, now with insurance. “Debbie” is now working part-time and meets with her adult son at least once a week for dinner.
Through many years of therapy and many trials of different medications, Debbie has ultimately realized her own strength, and she chooses to manage her diagnosis with pride.
She has chosen, as well, to manage her overall health. She walks 30-45 minutes per day and swims 2-3 days per week. She has mastered healthy cooking, often cooking with her son.
Without the time, support and empowerment she has been offered here at our outpatient mental health clinic, she may not have learned to care for both her mental and physical health. She conquered the guilt that she felt in giving up her son as well as the shame she felt in being labeled as “mentally ill.”
4 Ways to Advocate
We listed some suggestions last week — including how you can contact your legislator and write to the local media to advocate for sustained and affordable access to care.
1. Where does your state or local legislator stand on the new healthcare bill? - Click here to find out.
2. Contact your local legislators — Call both the district and Washington, D.C. office of each of your local or state representatives. Find the contact list for your state and district here.
3. Form a coalition and request a meeting — These days, many of our Washington representatives are favoring small-group meetings versus large town-hall gatherings. Find and rally your tribe. Unite and create talking points around one single issue. Then, request and set up a small-group advoacy meeting with your local represtatives
4. Tell it once. Tell it again - Already contacted your legislator (s)? That’s great, but members of Congress need to be updated on the real-life impacts of making cuts and reducing healthcare access for our neighbors and family members. Research the most recent statistics and studies (see last week’s list of resources). Then, call or write to your representative(s) with an updated set of facts.
We welcome the opportunity to work with the media.
Please note it is our policy that all media inquiries regarding any and all Lahey Health Behavioral Services must be made through the Department of Public Relations. Any representative from the media, including but not limited to film crews, reporters, producers, and photographers, must be accompanied by a representative from the Department of Public Relations.
While we must abide by federal HIPAA (patient privacy) laws, we will do everything we can to help you tell your story, meet your deadline and find qualified sources to speak to the issues of mental health, addiction treatment, family services and integrated care models.
You can reach us Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. by contacting the Media Relations Department:
If you need to reach a member of the media relations team after normal business hours, please page them at 781.256.9373 and a member of the department will get back to you.