"Let us never under-estimate the power of a well-written letter."
let's end inhumane discrimination
(A Letter writing campaign TO REPEAL IMD EXCLUSION)
“As a parent trying to get help for a loved one who has a serious mental illness, it’s like being forced to watch your child drown and (you’re) powerless to save them. I tried to get him the treatment he needed because he was too sick to realize he needed help. He finally sliced his throat right in front of me.” (This is a mother’s appeal in her letter to US Congressman Raul Ruiz.)
“Even the U.N. has cited the U.S. for our inhumane response and the terrible conditions the SMI suffer from which only makes them deteriorate even more. Incarceration, persecution and inattention to SMI inmates (many who haven't even been able to get a trial for years and are imprisoned without a conviction) has been ruled as ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’ If we don’t (repeal), America's street bedlams and tent cities will grow exponentially every year to our national shame. I'm 74 and I never thought I'd live to see a disaster like the one that exists now in my country. How can people continue to be so cruel and blind to this suffering ...?" (This is an appeal from a woman who has been advocating for appropriate psychiatric care for seriously mentally ill for over 20+ years in her letter to US Congresswoman Jackie Speier.)
The IMD Exclusion prevents federal Medicaid funds from covering inpatient services in a psychiatric facility with more than 16 beds, for patients between the ages of 18 and 64 who suffer from a psychiatric illness unless states and facilities meet specific requirements for waivers or utilize other mechanisms that allow for payment. It bars Medicaid enrollees with “mental diseases” from receiving the same level of care that enrollees without severe mental illness receive for physical ailments such as cancer and heart disease. In doing so, the exclusion denies equal protection under the law to the very group of people it is supposed to help. The IMD Exclusion is blatant discrimination against those with serious brain disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, commonly referred to as serious mental illnesses. For more information on why the IMD Exclusion must be repealed, please see our IMD Exclusion Position Statement.
People who are denied medical treatment instead, are abandoned, criminalized or left to die in our streets. Billions of dollars, the National Shattering Silence Coalition refers to as the #CostOfNotCaring, are wasted in the process. We must end the suffering by bringing about parity and a right to treatment under Medicaid/Medicare. NAMI, the National Shattering Silence Coalition, the Manhattan Institute, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, Mental Illness Policy Org, the Treatment Advocacy Center, the Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliance, the National Association of Medicaid Directors, the National Association for Children's Behavioral Health, and many other organizations and advocates support the full repeal of the IMD Exclusion.
Representative Grace Napolitano representing the 32nd district of California has introduced H.R. 2611 - "Increasing Behavioral Health Treatment Act" that would, among other things, repeal the IMD Exclusion. So far, the bill has 14 co-sponsors. We need many more! We also need someone from the Senate to introduce a bill mirroring H.R. 2611 in the Senate.
These are our calls to action...
⮕ Step 1: Click here to write a letter to your Representative asking for an end to the IMD Exclusion.
⮕Step 2: Click here to write a letter to your Senator. Reach out and ask for a meeting to discuss the IMD Exclusion and the need for its repeal. At the meeting, ask him/her to introduce a bill that mirrors H.R. 2611 in the Senate. Emails are appreciated, though not nearly as effective as actually meeting with your legislator.
⮕Step 3: Last, but not least, please join our coalition if you haven't already. We need your voice.
Our actions are the ones that will spur others to join us in ending this discrimination and the resulting abandonment, criminalization, and death of those with these illnesses and their family members who suffer right along with them. Please let me know right away via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are not OK with us using your testimony on our website, social media, the news media or elsewhere. If I don't hear back from you, I will assume it's OK. Your stories are so important. They need to be told and shared!
With gratitude and hope,
Jeanne Gore National Shattering Silence Coalition (NSSC) Coordinator & Co-Chair Steering Committee