02-22-2020  11:37 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
The Skanner Black History Month
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Jeremy Christian Guilty of Killing 2 Who Tried to Stop His Slurs on Max

Today jurors found Christian guilty of the May 26, 2017 stabbing deaths of Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best

States Step Up Funding for Planned Parenthood Clinics

A spokesman for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon said the agency has been "working closely with state officials to create critical backstops and protect access to care for all Oregonians who need it, regardless of federal action on Title X"

Oregon Denies Permit for Pipeline Before Federal Decision

Oregon's Department of Land Conservation and Development says a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay would have significant adverse effects on the state's coastal scenic and aesthetic resources, endangered species and critical habitat

Rep. Blumenauer Joined by Sens. Markey, Sanders, and Warren to Introduce Bill to Hold Big Oil Companies Accountable

"Amidst the growing climate emergency, closing this loophole is a small step we must take to hold Big Oil accountable and to protect our communities," said Blumenauer. 

NEWS BRIEFS

African American Initiative Breast Cancer Survivor Celebration to be Held Saturday

Susan G. Komen Oregon and SW Washington celebrate breast cancer survivors in the African American community with a free gala this...

Dr. Karin Edwards Named New President of Clark College

Board of Trustees names Dr. Karin Edwards as the college’s 15th leader in its 87-year history ...

OneUnited Bank Launches New Limited-Edition Harriet Tubman Card

OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in America, introduces the new limited-edition Harriet Tubman Card in celebration of...

Oregon House Votes to End Driver’s License Suspensions for Failure to Pay Fines

Bipartisan Vote Underscores Consensus for Reforms, Makes Way for Senate Action ...

Black History Month 2020: “African Americans and the Vote”

In our celebration of Black History Month 2020, the DPO Black Caucus looks forward to the screening of the award-winning documentary,...

Man charged in truck stop stabbing sent to state hospital

ONTARIO, Ore. (AP) — A Colorado man charged in what Oregon prosecutors say was a hate crime stabbing has been found unfit for trial and will be sent to the Oregon State Hospital before his legal case can move forward.The Argus-Observer in Ontario reports Malheur County Circuit Court Judge...

Oregon highway between Bend and Salem reopens

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The main Oregon highway connecting Salem and Bend reopened Saturday after a tanker crash and gas spill forced a week-long closure.The double tanker trunk spilled an estimated 7,800 gallons of petroleum products into the soil at the crash site east of Idanha, the Statesman...

OPINION

Black America is Facing a Housing Crisis

As the cost of housing soars the homeless population jumps 12 percent, the number of people renting grows and homeownership falls ...

Trump Expands Muslim Ban to Target Africans

Under the new ban on countries, four out of five people who will be excluded are Africans ...

Martin Luther King Day is an Opportunity for Service

Find out where you can volunteer and make a difference to the community ...

Looking to 2020 — Put Your Vote to WORK!

Ronald Reagan, who turned his back on organized labor and started America’s middle-class into a tailspin, has recently been voted by this administration’s NLRB into the Labor Hall of Fame ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

The Latest: Warren reports big haul of cash on debate week

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 presidential campaign (all times local):10 a.m.Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren says her presidential campaign has raised million in the past 10 days.In a tweet, the Democratic hopeful says the haul is double what the campaign had hoped to raise...

Lizzo, Nyong'o, Eddie Murphy vying for NAACP Image Awards

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Hollywood's awards season isn't over quite yet, with the NAACP Image Awards putting the spotlight Saturday on the achievements of actors and musicians of color.The evening's honorees include Oscar contenders, namely Cynthia Erivo, who starred in the Harriet Tubman...

Ryanair CEO criticized for singling out Muslim men as threat

LONDON (AP) — Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary is facing criticism for suggesting Muslim men should be singled out for extra scrutiny at airports. The boss of the Irish budget carrier told Saturday’s Times of London that families with young children should not be...

ENTERTAINMENT

Broadway's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' readies for Garden visit

NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Kyle Scatliffe has gone to Madison Square Garden plenty of times — for a Rangers game, a Muse concert and a WWE event. Next week, he's going back again, but this time he won't be in the seats.Scatliffe on Wednesday will be starring in the hit Broadway play...

Former Ukraine diplomat Marie Yovanovitch has book deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, the career diplomat who during the impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump offered a chilling account of alleged threats from Trump and his allies, has a book deal. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt confirmed Friday to The...

OWN's 'Cherish the Day' is a rare celebration of black love

LOS ANGELES (AP) — To separate filmmaker and TV producer Ava DuVernay’s trenchant, history-driven projects, including “Selma” and “When They See Us,” from her new romantic drama series is to sell short the determined thoughtfulness that shapes all her...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Netflix series explores the assassination of Malcolm X

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new Netflix series is tackling questions around the 1965 assassination of civil...

AP FACT CHECK: Donald Trump and the audacity of hype

WASHINGTON (AP) — In their boisterous presidential debate, several Democrats sold short the health care...

Germany admits there's a far-right problem, but what to do?

BERLIN (AP) — As Germany's president expressed his sympathy and shock during a candlelight vigil for nine...

Italy towns close down amid virus case clusters, 2 deaths

CODOGNO, Italy (AP) — A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown Saturday after the...

US leads training exercises in Africa amid focus on Sahel

THIES, Senegal (AP) — Crouching in the sparse brush, maneuvering into formations through a divide, and then...

At Trump's India rally, Modi bets on bolstering his image

AHMEDABAD, India (AP) — A festive mood has enveloped Ahmedabad in India’s northwestern state of...

McMenamins
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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