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Linda Rosenberg

Former President and CEO, National Council for Behavioral Health

President’s Day: Reflecting on Compassion and What is Right

February 17, 2017 | Advocacy | Comments
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I have to admit, President’s Day isn’t one of those holidays I think about a lot. Except for a three-day weekend and possibly good sales at Macy’s, President’s Day doesn’t hold a lot of meaning for me.

But lately I have been thinking more about the presidency.

About the impact our leaders have on our country. And about the devastating impact they can have on the people we serve.

Like Chad Diaz. In the New York Times this week, Chad talked about what would happen if he loses his health benefits because Congress and the President want to eliminate his coverage. “If this gets taken from me, it’s right back to Square 1,” he said. “And that’s not a good place.”

The Affordable Care Act was not without its challenges. But it has provided 1.6 million Americans who never before had care with treatment for addictions.

How can we just send people who need our help back to square 1?

What will we demand of our leaders?

What will be the impact if they act against both science and compassion?

  • The majority of the 1.29 million people in treatment right now for substance use disorders or mental illnesses – including 220,000 people who are now being treated for opioid abuse – will lose coverage, and thus care, according to research conducted by Harvard Medical School Health Economics professor Richard Frank and New York University Dean Sherry Glied.
  • In West Virginia, 214,501 people with a substance use disorder or mental illness will lose access to critical mental health services made available by the ACA.
  • 63,000 people in Pennsylvania who are now getting treatment thanks to the Medicaid expansion may lose coverage – this in a state with the sixth-highest drug-overdose death rate in the US.
  • One third of Ohio’s 700,000 new Medicaid recipients have been diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder. Their coverage will go away. What will happen to them?

Our country must do better.

We must demand it of our Congress…and our President.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, who will be a keynote speaker at #NatCon17, said that President Abraham Lincoln’s “greatness as a human being and as President came from his practical understanding of one of Plato’s profound utterances. Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Be kind, Mr. President.

Millions of Americans are fighting a hard battle.

Don’t take away their chance to win by taking away their treatment.

That is what I am thinking about on President’s Day this year. What are you thinking about?