I subscribe to some really strange electronic newsletters. I don’t know why, except they are free and usually on topics that have absolutely nothing to do with my life – like one on military immunizations I subscribed to after the anthrax scare.
My latest is a newsletter from the Federal Firearms Licensee Information Service, a division of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive at the U.S. Justice Department.
I find the bureau’s activities fascinating. It’s like the folks in Washington decided to create one agency to regulate the most dangerous and controversial substances on the planet! Alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives. One-stop shopping for true crime television producers!
Anyway, the lead article in the September issue of the FFLIS newsletter is called,”Adjudicated Mentally Defective” and it’s all about the federal laws governing possession of firearms by the “mentally defective” and how to get your gun rights restored if you are ever declared “mentally defective.” I’m not a big fans of firearms but you put the words “mentally defective” and “firearms” in the same sentence and I’m interested.
Way back in the 1970’s, when I was a teenager, the only depression we knew about was the one in 1929 that made our parents and grandparents tightwads. Back then, teenagers with depression either hid it (like I did), self-medicated (like I did) or were loners – kids who did not fit in.
So when I heard a local couple who had lost their son to bipolar was underwriting Johns Hopkins’ ADAP program at local schools, I had to ask…”What if this had been around when I was in high school?”
The Adolescent Depression Awareness Program is brilliantly simple. It’s common sense at its finest. ADAP provides teachers with a curriculum to use on on how to teach their students about depression.“Through education we will increase awareness about depression and the need for evaluation and treatment.”
This should not be controversial but teaching teens anything about their health can be absurdly controversial. Just say the word”condom” in in some parts of the country and you’re just asking for an inquisition by the PTA.
There are some truly annoying people in the world. Among the biggest jerks are those who refuse to believe that mental illnesses are real. I know one of these folks. He’s a control freak. He’s right. Always right. It’s his way or the highway. There is no telling him – or even suggesting to him – anything. I think the reason I find him so annoying is that is used to be a lot like him. A lot.
Then I fell into a deep depression. One of the few – maybe the only thing about hitting bottom – is that it gives you an open mind. You can no longer hang onto your humongous ego. The harder you try, the more it hurts. As you are holding on with a death grip, you become even more annoying and controlling. You’re not just right about everything, you win every argument and then spike your opponent’s opinion in the end zone while doing a little happy dance.
I know it’s only September but I think it’s safe to say that Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the undisputed winner of the 2011 If-At-First-You-Don’t-Succeed Award.
After losing the decades-old mental health parity battle with the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008, Blue Cross and Blue Shield has orchestrated a very clever end run around the new law.
Here in Florida, it will work like this: As of Nov. 30, BCBSF will cancel is contracts with mental health care providers and switch to a new managed care vendor – New Directions Behavioral Health of Kansas City, Missouri. Providers – psychologists and mental health counselors – will have to decide if they want to sign a contract with New Directions in order to continue treating their Blue-Cross insured patients.
This may look like nothing more than common-sense corporate housekeeping but it is shaping up to become a devious scheme to deny mentally ill patients the treatment they are legally entitled to under the new parity law. Here’s the rub: in some cases New Directions is paying counselors 30 percent less than Blue Cross for the same services.
Here’s what puzzles me: How can New Directions claim its reimbursement rates are “usual and customary” when BCBSF was paying mental health providers 30 percent more for the same services? Whose “usual and customary” rates are we supposed to believe? New Directions or BCBSF?
You could argue that New Directions’ “usual and customary” data are more accurate because the company specializes in mental health case management. I might even believe that except for one little problem: Blue Cross and Blue Shield and New Directions are partners.
This seems a little sketchy, doesn’t it? Especially when you consider that BCBSF sent out notification letters earlier this summer and gave providers between 15-30 days to sign on with New Directions. What’s the rush? Connie Galietti, executive director of the Florida Psychological Association, expressed the same concern, along with five other disturbing requirements in the contract, in her Aug. 10 letter to Kevin McCarty, …
I think the people who set the prices for my medications are the same folks who decided Michael Vick should be paid $100 million for playing football.
I took a look at the actual price of my antidepressants and mood stabilizer yesterday and about passed out. Over $1,000 for a 3-month supply of my medications. You’re probably wondering how that amount of money could have slipped by a coupon-clipping, single-mom with a kid in college. Well, I am one of the most blessed people on the planet. I have medical insurance. Really good medical insurance with prescription drug coverage (God bless my employer).
I have this amazing prescription program for maintenance drugs – everything from birth control pills to Lipitor and, yes, antidepressants, anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers. I get a 3-month supply of generics for $30 and brand-name drugs for $60. Doesn’t matter which drug. They are all $30 for 3-months of generics and $60 for 3 months of brand name.
I know. It is an obscenely good deal and I am blessed – truly blessed – to have this benefit. I will be the first to tell you that until the other day, when I looked at the actual receipt, I took this benefit for granted. I’ve been getting this deal for so long that I just open the package when it comes in the mail and toss the paperwork in a folder in my files.