Thursday, July 14, 2005

Are Your Legislators Paying Attention to You? Continued

Touching on my representatives and their responses again, I'll move on to Representative Tim Johnson. I've been pretty happy with his votes on my issues of concern. He's been going against the apparent Republican party norm, as far as the mental health issue is concerned. He voted for Representative Paul's amendment 366 That amendment failed due to 124 Republican votes and 179 Democratic votes against with 32 abstaining (chicken livers). It only stated
None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to create or implement any universal mental health screening program.
and as Representative Paul stated
Matter of fact, when the State gets control of children, they tend to overuse medications like this. Take, for instance, in Texas, 60 percent of the foster children are on medication. In Massachusetts, it is close to 65 percent. In Florida, 55 percent of the children in foster home care are receiving these kinds of medication.
See here for the excitement in IL regarding Medicaid recipient families.Below is the outcry against the amendment. Some said there is no call for universal mental health screening. Who does their research anyway? Did any of them say We don't want mandatory (universal) mental health screening during this discussion? I don't think so as I scan comments. Instead,here's some pithy quotes:
they made it very clear that in all programming involving kids there is a requirement that parents participate and give their informed consent

Having said that, let me simply say I do not think our problem in this country is that we do too much screening for mental health problems with young people
The problem here is not overtreatment, it is undertreatment. That is why I think the Paul amendment, unfortunately, continues to ascribe to the stereotypes of the past that mental illnesses are not real illnesses and therefore they should not be treated and taken care of. That is why I would ask my colleagues to please vote against the discrimination, the intolerance, the stigma of the Paul amendment.
Paul's comments disputed that but I guess Rep. Kennedy couldn't help himself.
Once again, I want to make the point that this does not deny funding for individual children who show signs that they may need or they have a problem and need to be tested. It is just to make sure that this is not universal and not be mandatory and that parental rights are guarded against and that the parent is very much involved.
It would affect current funds used by States for mental health services and future planning to address this issue. It is a major medical concern, and this amendment does not provide for a solution.
There's the kicker. Illinois mental health agency providers (screeners) are already in a tizzy with Public Aid about non-reimbursement. Federal grants are what they are framing their Plan around as it "affects mental health" screening as well as the "future planning to address this issue" [mandatory mental health screening]. Otherwise why would a simple amendment to not use federal monies for "universal mental health screening" be addressed in such a manner. She showed the mental health screening proponents' cards despite their aggressive denials. If what TeenScreen said on that link was true, there wouldn't be fact after fact regarding families such as the Rhodes or Gleason family. Continuing on with Rep Murphy, the psychologist
Just as pediatricians routinely screen newborns for heart and liver diseases and sickle cell anemia, appropriate mental health screening done by qualified professionals is vital to identifying mental health and the potential substance abuse problems of our youth. Screening does not cause diabetes, screening does not cause metabolic disorders, screening does not cause cancer, and screening does not cause hyperactivity. With over 75 percent of all prescriptions for antidepressants prescribed by non-psychiatrists, including pediatricians, OB-GYNs, and primary care practitioners, with little or no training in psychiatry, the answer is to do screening the right way with parental consent and by qualified mental health professionals, not to take away the ability to do it at all.
Huh? Pediatricians, OB-GYNs, and primary care practitioners, qualified and not are exactly who will be doing this along with 'trained' mental health screeners in the school. Do your homework, unfortunate representative from Pennsylvania. Our friends in PA have enough problems besides not being able to homeschool in freedom.
By jeepers, methinks they (federal representatives voting against Rep. Paul's amendment) want universal (mandatory) mental health screening because they know what's best.

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