Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has unveiled a comprehensive mental health policy she said would assure that the 40 million people with mental health issues would get quality treatment.
“Hillary’s plan will integrate our mental and physical health care problems,” her campaign said in a statement. “Her goal is that within her time in office, Americans will no longer separate mental health from physical health when it comes to access to care or quality of treatment.”
The core of her package is a bid to integrate the nation’s physical and mental health systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person,” including mental health and addiction services. Her plan calls for expanding the reimbursement structure for Medicare and Medicaid. It calls for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to create and implement the new payment model.
In arguing for the plan, Clinton underscores the depth of the mental health challenges facing the nation.
“Hillary will convene a White House Conference on Mental Health during her first year as president,” her campaign said.
The plan also calls for early diagnosis and intervention in mental health issues, including a national initiative for suicide prevention.
“The overall rate of suicide increased by 24 percent between 1999 and 2014, and is now at its highest level in 30 years,” the campaign said. She would create a cross-government initiative headed by the Surgeon General to coordinate the effort.
“She also believes that we must redouble our efforts around early screening and intervention – and that means training pediatricians, teachers, school counselor and other service providers throughout the public health system, to identify mental health problems at an early age and recommend appropriate support,” the statement said.
The campaign said she would also enforce mental health parity law that’s already on the books
“But while the right laws are on the books, they are too often ignored and not enforced,” the statement said. “Hillary will launch randomized audits to detect parity violations and increase federal enforcement,” the campaign said. “She will also enforce disclosure requirements so that insurers cannot conceal their practices for denying mental health care and strengthen federal monitoring of health insurer compliance with network adequacy requirements.”
Her package also aims to enforce better outcomes in the criminal justice system by training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention. The package also calls for increased access to quality housing and job opportunities and, for the longer term, she would increase the nation’s investment in brain and behavior research, where she argued not enough is focused on those crucial areas.
A big part of her effort will be in convincing voters of how extensive the mental health problem is and the number of people who are impacted by the diseases.
“Recognizing that nearly a fifth of all adults in the United States – more than 40 million people – are coping with mental health problems, Hillary’s plan will integrate our mental and physical health systems,” the statement said.
In pushing the plan, the statement said Clinton has had a long-term commitment to the issue and it’s been a key part of her campaign platform all along.
“Hillary has been talking about mental health policy throughout her campaign, since hearing directly from American parents, students, veterans, nurses and police officers about how these challenges keep them up at night,” the statement said.
The latest proposal is clearly designed to draw a sharp contrast with Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has offered few details policy proposals and tends to talk in slogans like “Make American Great Again” without detailing how he would do that.
By Mike Glover
Photo via Clinton campaign website