10-16-2021  2:31 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Oregon Set to Expand Hotline for Bias Crime Reporting

With a rise in hate crimes and bias incidents in Oregon and nationwide the two-person office just couldn’t handle the volume.

Portland Shootings Prompt DA to Spend $1M to Handle Cases

Multnomah County plans to hire four prosecutors and two investigators to help with an increasing caseload of homicide investigations

Cascadia Whole Health Honors Community Justice Leader, Fine Artist with Culture of Caring Awards

Erika Preuitt and Jeremy Okai Davis recognized for positive contributions to community.

Salem-Keizer School Boards Adopts Anti-Racism Resolution

The Salem-Keizer school board has voted to adopt a resolution outlining the board’s commitment to equity and anti-racism.

NEWS BRIEFS

Joint Center Commends Senator Whitehouse for Hiring Monalisa Dugué as Chief of Staff

Dugué is one of two Black Chiefs of Staff in the Senate ...

FBI Offers up to $25,000 for Information in Mass Shooting Event

18-year-old Makayla Maree Harris killed and six others injured in a Portland shooting on July 17, 2021 ...

Nearly 100 Animals Seized From Woofin Palooza Forfeited to MCAS

A Multnomah County Circuit Court judge has ruled that dogs and cats seized from an unlicensed facility named Woofin Palooza are now...

City of Seattle Office and Sound Transit Finalize No-Cost Land Transfer for Affordable Housing Development

Rainier Valley Homeownership Initiative will create at least 100 for-sale homes, permanently affordable to low- and moderate-income...

Sierra Club Reacts to Rep. Schrader’s Comments on Climate Change

Schrader Calls Climate Change “biggest threat to Americans” after voting against key policy in committee ...

'Lawless city?' Worry after Portland police don't stop chaos

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A crowd of 100 people wreaked havoc in downtown Portland, Oregon, this week – smashing storefront windows, lighting dumpsters on fire and causing at least 0,000 in damage – but police officers didn't stop them. Portland Police Bureau officials say...

Legionnaires outbreak persists at Portland apartment complex

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Officials have confirmed that a North Portland apartment complex had a new case of Legionnaires’ disease in late September, the latest in an outbreak attributed to the waterborne illness since January. The Multnomah County Health Department said the...

No. 21 Texas A&M heads to Mizzou after 'Bama upset win

No. 21 Texas A&M (4-2, 1-2 SEC) at Missouri (3-3, 0-2), Saturday at noon EDT (SEC Network). Line: Texas A&M by 9 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Series record: Texas A&M leads 8-7. WHAT’S AT STAKE? ...

No. 21 Texas A&M tries to avoid 'Bama hangover at Mizzou

Jimbo Fisher opened his weekly news conference going through everything that Texas A&M did well the previous week, when the Aggies stunned then-No. 1 Alabama before a raucous crowd at Kyle Field. It was a long list. So it wasn't surprising that by the end...

OPINION

How Food Became the Perfect Beachhead for Gentrification

What could be the downside of fresh veggies, homemade empanadas and a pop-up restaurant specializing in banh mis? ...

Homelessness, Houselessness in the Richest Country in the World: An Uncommon Logic

When and why did the United States of America chose the wealth of a few over the health, wealth, and well-being of so many ...

American Business Leaders Step Up to Fight Inequities in the South

With COVID-19 still an omnipresent concern and the country’s recovery still very much in jeopardy, individuals, families, and communities are struggling to deal with issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. ...

Waters Statement on 20th Anniversary of September 11 Attacks

Twenty years ago today, our nation suffered devastating terrorist attacks on our soil and against our people that wholly and completely changed the world as we knew it. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

South Carolina awards Staley 7-year, .4 million contract

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — It certainly was a big day for Dawn Staley. South Carolina's national championship coach thought it was just as important for women's basketball and gender equity. Staley and the school announced a new, seven-year contract that will pay her [scripts/homepage/home.php].9 million...

New Mexico judge denies lab workers' claim in vaccine fight

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico judge on Friday denied a request by dozens of scientists and others at Los Alamos National Laboratory to block a vaccine mandate, meaning workers risk being fired if they don't comply with the lab's afternoon deadline. The case comes as...

New York's likely new mayor plans to preserve gifted program

NEW YORK (AP) — The Democrat who will likely become New York City's next mayor says he does not intend to get rid of the city's program for gifted and talented students, nipping plans that outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio just announced. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams...

ENTERTAINMENT

Film TV workers union says strike to start next week

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The union representing film and television crews says its 60,000 members will begin a nationwide strike on Monday if it does not reach a deal that satisfies demands for fair and safe working conditions. A strike would bring a halt to...

Gary Paulsen, celebrated children's author, dies at 82

NEW YORK (AP) — Gary Paulsen, the acclaimed and prolific children's author who often drew upon his rural affinities and wide-ranging adventures for tales that included “Hatchet,” “Brian's Winter” and “Dogsong,” has died at age 82. Random House Children's Books...

Todd Haynes: Finding the frequency of the Velvet Underground

The most often-repeated thing said about the Velvet Underground is Brian Eno’s quip that the band didn’t sell many records, but everyone who bought one started a band. You won’t hear that line in Todd Haynes’ documentary “The Velvet Underground,” nor will you see a...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Jill Biden travels to Virginia, New Jersey to help Democrats

HENRICO, Va. (AP) — First lady Jill Biden campaigned Friday for Democrats in governors' races in Virginia and...

Authorities call fatal stabbing of UK lawmaker terrorist act

LEIGH-ON-SEA, England (AP) — A long-serving member of Parliament was stabbed to death Friday during a meeting...

US vows to pay relatives of Afghans killed in drone strike

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Defense Department said Friday that it is committed to offering condolence payments...

At least 46 killed in Taiwanese apartment building inferno

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (AP) — At least 46 people were killed and another 41 injured after a fire broke out early...

Lebanon buries 7 killed amid street battles over port probe

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon on Friday mourned seven people killed in gunbattles on the streets of Beirut the previous...

Moderate earthquake rocks Bali, killing at least 3

DENPASAR, Indonesia (AP) — A moderately strong earthquake and an aftershock hit Indonesia’s resort island of...

Viji Sundaram New America Media

Health Care ProtestSAN DIEGO, Calif. – Like most severely mentally ill patients, 23-year-old Daniel Padilla doesn't see himself as that.

The insurance companies that cover him – Medi-Cal (California's name for Medicaid, the federal-state-funded insurance for low-income and disabled people) and United Health Insurance -- don't see the schizophrenia he was diagnosed with at age 19, as deserving the same benefits as someone with a medical condition.

His father, Benito, must go after the insurers month after month to get them to pay Padilla's psychiatrist to keep his schizophrenia under control.

"The insurers approve three visits and then they put you through hell," asserted San Diego-based psychiatrist Dr. Rodrigo A. Muñoz, who has been treating Padilla all along.

"Insurers discriminate against people who are mentally ill," Muñoz said.

But that's all going to change soon. When the historic Affordable Care Act fully unrolls on Jan. 1, 2014, it will require insurers to offer mental health care benefits equal to physical health benefits. In other words, a disorder in the brain will be treated no differently than one in the kidney, Muñoz said.

Not just people with mental disorders, but those with substance use disorders have encountered penny-pinching annual and lifetime caps on coverage, higher deductibles, or simply no coverage at all.

Federal Parity Law

The blatantly discriminatory practices by health insurance companies prompted Congress in 2008 to pass the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), which mandated that psychiatric illness be covered just the same as other medical illnesses. It required insurers to offer the same annual and lifetime dollar limits for mental health care as for medical and surgical care.

But the law applies only to larger employers – those with 50 or more workers – that offered a health plan that covered mental health and substance abuse. Smaller employers, as well as people who buy their own insurance, are excluded from the benefits of the law.

"Smaller employers have resisted changing the law, saying they will go broke" if they had to include mental health coverage in their health care plans, Muñoz pointed out.

The ACA has extended the MHPAEA provisions to state insurance exchanges, known as Covered California in this state. This would require policies purchased by smaller employers and individuals through the exchange, as well as those purchased outside of it, to be MHPAEA-compliant.

Had the MHPAEA mandated universal psychiatric benefits when it was created, insurers like Padilla's would not have been able to discriminate between the treatment of psychiatric and non-psychiatric medical illnesses, he said.

Only a Fraction of the Mentally Ill Get Treatment

Dr. Clayton Chau, who practices psychiatry in Orange County, Calif., said that because of the discrimination factor, poor access to care and inadequate insurance coverage, only a fraction of those with mental illness get treatment.

A report by the Surgeon General indicates that one in four Americans has a diagnosable mental illness at any given time. National and international studies show that 1 percent of the general population has schizophrenia, an illness that is treatable, though not curable. Surveys, including those done by the National Institutes of Mental Health, show that only about 50 percent of Americans seek psychiatric treatment.

According to Randall Hagar, director of government relations with the California Psychiatric Association, a state mental health parity bill signed by Gov. Davis in 2000 required insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of a range of mental illnesses under "the same terms and conditions applied to other medical conditions." The intent of the law was to eliminate the disparity in co-pays and higher deductibles.

In the opinion of many advocates, Hagar observed, the law is "routinely violated by plans and insurers, and enforcement is generally weak."

That prompted Sen. Jim Beall, D-Campbell, to try five times to give more teeth to federal and state mental health parity laws. Beall's first four bills were vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, and his most recent bill (SB22) didn't even make it out of committee.

What the Health Care Law Will Do

Under the ACA, aka Obamacare, health insurers are forbidden from excluding people with pre-existing illness from medical coverage. By definition, Americans with a mental illness have a pre-existing disorder, and up until now, private health insurers have denied with impunity coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

California has added a mental health component to its expanded Medi-Cal program, under ACA, to ensure that its Medi-Cal population with mental disabilities receives more comprehensive mental health benefits, starting Jan. 1, 2014.

The current mental health component of Medi-Cal "is limited in terms of the number of providers and the number of services" it offers, Chau said.

Older people with mental illness will also benefit from the ACA because the law will close the notorious "donut hole," allowing the Medicare population to not have a break in medication.

Padilla, who's currently working for his GED, has been able to stay on his father's insurance because of his age. A provision in the ACA allows children under 26 to remain on a parent's insurance plan.

Muñoz is relieved that the ACA will help patients like Padilla access the care they so badly need. The removal of lifetime caps by insurance companies will enable mentally ill patients to access care before turning to suicidal thoughts, becoming violent or ending up homeless, he said.

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