Sunday, August 24, 2008

And now for something completely different-Politics!

I found this piece this morning by my friend Larry, a talented journalist who has a blog on Beliefnet. Larry is a good guy, I know him in real life from state advocacy, and he has always been kind to me. I respect the work he has done while he lived in this state, he is probably the best support group facilitator I have seen in my state. It's very well written and should be mandatory for all who want to know where the candidates stand on health-and mental health issues. It's OK if you don't agree with him. Just listen to what he has to say and take that away with you....


So What Does the Election Mean for US?

The “us” in this case meaning those with mental illness, a subject I guarantee you will not hear Barack Obama or Joe Biden discuss on the campaign trail, let alone John McCain and his running mate TBA. Too controversial, after all ...

But a President can make a gigantic difference for those of us with mental illness – helping rally a mental health parity bill through Congress (and ideally including such language in an overall national health insurance bill), and undertaking regulatory changes at the Department of Health and Human Services to assure equal treatment of those with mental and physical illnesses if Congress continues its shameful and bipartisan reluctance to act.

Obama has promised his cabinet will be bipartisan. That, in turn, has inspired my “dream a little dream” on the subject:

That if Obama wins, he names GOP Minnesota Congressman Jim Ramstad as his Secretary of Health and Human Services. Ramstad is a recovering alcoholic (and devoted attendee of 12-step meetings) who has been Congress’ mightiest champion of parity laws for insurance/reimbursement of substance abuse and mental health treatment. He is prominently pro-stem cell research. Ramstad is a member of the board of directors of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at ColumbiaUniversity in New York. He’s retiring this year, so he’s under no obligation to campaign against Obama as he might be otherwise. And by both legislative and life experience, he is supremely qualified for the job.

Imagine having the consumer perspective championed at the highest levels of government. Would wonders never cease?


Thank you Larry for this amazing piece.

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