Past Releases: NCSL Release
States Urged to Expand Treatment for Mental Illness and Addictions
For more information and to schedule interviews with mental health and addictions policy experts, contact Communications@thenationalcouncil.org or 301.984.6200, ext. 228
As thousands of state legislators and staff gather in New Orleans July 22 –26 for the 2008 National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare urges state policymakers to turn their attention to their constituents with addiction disorders and mental illnesses.
57 million Americans suffer from mental illness and an estimated 21.1 million persons with an illicit drug or alcohol use problem do not receive treatment. And 40–80 percent of children in the child welfare system have been subject to abuse and neglect because of a parent’s addiction to alcohol and drugs.
“We can effectively treat mental illnesses and addictions and save money. Investing in community treatment keeps people out of jails and hospitals and keeps families together,” says Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council. “States are beginning to realize the value of treatment and we urge them to do more.”
The National Council calls on states to address the following issues:
- Ensure equitable coverage for treatment of mental illnesses and addictions in efforts to cover uninsured Americans.
New data indicates that more than one in four adult Americans without medical insurance have a mental illness or substance use disorder, or both.
- Ensure that people with mental illnesses or addictions have access to the medications they need.
Data demonstrates that restricting access to medications leads to increased utilization of high priced services; a study of Medicare Part D patients with mental illness found that over half had problems accessing their medications, which resulted in nearly one in five having an emergency room visit and over one in ten being hospitalized.
- Reduce or eliminate Medicaid copays for individuals with chronic diseases including those with mental illnesses or addictions.
Copays in Medicaid programs shift the burden to those least able to afford it and ultimately lead to poor health outcomes and higher costs; 75% of America’s healthcare costs are attributable to chronic conditions.
- Make funding available so that mental health and addictions treatment agencies can address co-morbid physical conditions.
Research indicates that people with serious mental illness die, on average, 25 years earlier than the general population and 60 percent of premature deaths are due to medical conditions such as cardiovascular, pulmonary, and infectious disease.
- Ensure addictions treatment programs are available in prisons.
80 percent of state prisoners report a history of drug or alcohol use (55 percent report using drugs or alcohol during the commission of the crime that resulted in their incarceration), but only 10 percent receive addiction treatment during their incarceration.
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,400 behavioral healthcare organizations. Member organizations provide treatment and rehabilitation services for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country.