August 12, 2009 (from the NAMI.org website)
President Obama shared his vision for health care reform—and stressed his support of mental health parity—at a New Hampshire town hall meeting on Aug. 11.
Linda Becher, an audience member, specifically asked the president about access to mental health care and its impact on society. The president acknowledged the seriousness of mental illnesses and the reality that many existing insurance policies do not cover them on the same terms as physical illnesses. President Obama also expressed his desire to include mental health care as part of health care reform.
Watch President Obama speak about mental health care at 48:43 or read the transcript below.
QHello, Mr. President. My name is Linda Becher (ph). I’m from Portsmouth and I have proudly taught at this high school for 37 years…I’ve been lucky enough to have very good health care coverage and my concerns currently are for those who do not. And I guess my question is if every American who needed it has access to good mental health care, what do you think the impact would be on our society?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you raise the — (applause) — you know, mental health has always been undervalued in the health insurance market. And what we now know is, is that somebody who has severe depression has a more debilitating and dangerous illness than somebody who’s got a broken leg. But a broken leg, nobody argues that’s covered. Severe depression, unfortunately, oftentimes isn’t even under existing insurance policies.
So I think — I’ve been a strong believer in mental health parity, recognizing that those are serious illnesses. (Applause.) And I would like to see a mental health component as part of a package that people are covered under, under our plan. Okay? (Applause.)
This all sounds good, but I don’t know if we will see any kind of health care reform if some of the fear mongering doesn’t subside. Terms like “death panels” certainly don’t help to move the legislation, in any form, forward. Personally, I like what I hear about Switzerland’s health care system…..A basic plan is provided and they have the option to “upgrade” at their own expense if they choose. That’s all I want……basic coverage for everyone!
Here’s what healthcare reform will do:
* Health care reform will stop insurance company abuses like refusing to pay a claim or give you coverage because of “pre-existing” conditions. (Been there)
– Your out-of-pocket expenses will be capped. (Methinks bankruptcies will decrease!)
– Insurance companies won’t be allowed to charge women higher rates than men (been there) or drop you if you get sick.
– Insurance companies will have to cover your children until age 26 instead of dumping them at 19. (been there – they should at least be covered under family plans while they are in college!)
* Health care reform will hold down rising costs. (been there – I now have less than adequate coverage because I can no longer afford my old plan)
– A public health insurance option will force private insurers to compete and will lower costs for everyone. (yeah!)
– By requiring companies to pay their fair share, we’ll stop them from dumping their health care costs on the rest of us. (when I owned a small business I offered health insurance to my employees……it helped keep my personal premium cost down! Now I understand that’s not necessarily the case if there is one employee with expensive health issues – that’s wrong, too!)
* Health reform means affordable health care will be there for you, no matter what. If you lose your job, or your children lose their coverage. ( we have all heard stories about kids moving back in as adults!)
- When you retire affordable health care will be there for you. (it’s called Medicare and it was vehemently debated and accused of being “socialism” when passed)
THE REALITY: health care costs are spiraling out of control, and we all deserve quality and affordable care. Health care reform simply can’t wait.