League of Women Voters LVV Update: Mental Healthcare Rally

League Supporters,

Thanks to everyone who attended our rally to oppose any cuts to Nevada’s mental health budget!  We had a full house!

For those unable to attend, we heard from Assemblyman Steve Yeager, Senator Patricia Spearman, and Judge Heidi Almase. 

Assemblyman Yeager and Senator Spearman confirmed our assertion that not only should we reject the Medicaid expansion rollback, which will leave 300,000 Nevadans without insurance, we should also not accept that $20 million can be subtracted from our mental healthcare budget without harm to progress already made.

Judge Almase shared her insights and experiences as the presiding judge over a new mental health court.  Judge Heidi shared that we are finally making some progress on diverting mental healthcare patients away from our jails and towards opportunities to receive high-quality treatment and to enter the work-world on equal-footing.  It would be a tragedy to lose this and other fledgling programs just as we are seeing promising results.

http://www.reviewjournal.com/view/las-vegas-mental-health-court-helps-defendants-get-out-criminal-justice-system

Because we’ll be fighting on two fronts—state and federal–to keep the mental healthcare budget whole, we’ll need two related but separate strategies.

First, at the state level, the Governor is proposing cutting $20 million from his budget for mental healthcare based on the premise that we can afford the cut due to the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  He asserts that more patients will have access to private doctors because of the expansion, so the state therefore won’t need to fund as many services.

There are two problems with this approach.  First, we now know that the ACA replacement plan will end the Medicaid expansion program by 2020; and second, many mental healthcare professionals have testified in legislative hearings that the $20 million could easily be reallocated to other public mental healthcare programs, which are currently under funded.

You can read about the ACA repeal plan here: http://www.npr.org/2017/03/13/520031463/gop-health-care-bill-could-leave-24m-without-coverage-by-2026-cbo-says?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170313

So, if you agree that a $20 million cut is the wrong approach for Nevada’s mental healthcare budget, please contact your state legislators to express your concerns.  Every Nevadan is represented in Carson City by a state Senator and an Assemblyperson, so you should contact both.

To find your specific legislators, please go to this webpage and type in your address at the top of the page.  When your districts appear, click on the colored numbers and a box will open that identifies your state Senator and Assemblyperson.  If you click on that person’s name, his/her bio page will open with an email address and phone number.

http://mapserve1.leg.state.nv.us/whoRU/

You can also look through our Advocacy Guide to see not only the Who’s My Legislator? page, but also all the other advocacy features on the legislative website.  To access our Advocacy Guide, please go to: https://lwvlvvblog.org/2017/01/22/lwvlvv-2017-advocacy-guide/

When you contact your legislator, please put Oppose Cutting the Mental Healthcare Budget in the subject line.  Next, write that you are a constituent (include your address at the bottom of the message) and then provide a brief, personal story about how cuts to the mental healthcare budget will impact you, your family, or your community.

If you are an ally, but don’t have a personal story to tell about how important mental healthcare is for our community, here are some resources you can cite in your brief message:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/04/30/a-shocking-number-of-mentally-ill-americans-end-up-in-prisons-instead-of-psychiatric-hospitals/?utm_term=.03ae6105b7a8

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/10/17/498270772/how-gaps-in-mental-health-care-play-out-in-emergency-rooms

 

The second strategy is to contact Senator Dean Heller and Representative Mark Amodei, at the federal level, to request that both oppose rolling back the Medicaid expansion through the American Health Care Act. 

You can read about Governor Sandoval’s reaction to the possible Medicaid rollback here: https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/sandoval-wont-support-rollback-aca-medicaid-expansion/

Yesterday Senator Heller indicated that he did not support the rollback; his action on the replacement plan will be crucial to maintaining Medicaid’s current capacity to cover our most vulnerable neighbors.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/dean-heller-obamacare-republicans-235978

Please contact Senator Heller’s office to encourage him to oppose any rollback of the Medicaid expansion.

https://www.heller.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form

Representative Amodei also sent a message out on March 9th indicating that he has some concerns over the process being used to create and vet the new healthcare bill:

https://amodei.house.gov/enewsletters-archive/

Please contact Representative Amodei’s office to also encourage him to oppose any rollback of the Medicaid expansion.

Phone: (202) 225-6155

As this issue proceeds rest assured that League of Women Voters of LVV will keep you up-to-date.

Sondra

 

Sondra Cosgrove

President League of Women Voters of Las Vegas Valley