Fixing Our Ailing Mental Health Treatment System

One of my favorite Congressman, Rod Frelinghuysen, New Jersey, has an excellent weekly newsletter. This week he writes:

"More than 10 million Americans have severe schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or suffer from major depression.  Yet millions are going without treatment and families struggle to find care for their loved ones.

As a longtime mental health advocate, I recognize that the federal government’s approach to mental health has been notoriously chaotic - a patchwork of antiquated programs and ineffective policies across numerous departments, agencies, and offices.  In fact, the General Accountability Office notes that there are 12 federal programs charged with addressing mental illness and “interagency coordination for programs supporting individuals with serious mental illness is lacking.”

Fundamentally, mental illness is a disease. We certainly do not treat people with cancer or diabetes or heart disease so callously.

Sadly, some people end up in the criminal justice system or out on the streets because services are not available. The illness may result in suicide, drug abuse, crime, homelessness and more. Our failure to care for those who are ill comes at a very high cost to our society, in economic terms and in wasted human potential and, occasionally, terrible violence.”


Through my education in Psychology, my time as a social worker in a maximum security prison, as mobile crisis clinician, and in my private practice, I have been hip deep in this stuff. It has at times been sad, frustrating, infuriating and, occasionally, there is a light when medicine and government and community come to together to literally save a life. 

I am all too familiar with these unfortunate problems in our society. I have worked the psychiatric units. I have been instrumental in some rescues. I can’t wait to get to Washington to clear out bureaucratic bumbling and get out help for these fellow citizens!

Posted on 09 Jul 2016, 01:46 - Category: Healthcare

More VA Bungling

After nearly a year of meetings, the commission empowered by the $15B Veterans Choice, Access and Accountability Act of 2014, today released its 292 page report. 12 of 15 commissioners signed, 3 did not, 2 of those dissented, saying it fell "far short of what is needed”.

The report found the so-called "Choice Program”, permitting vets to seek private care, is flawed in design and execution. It made 18 recommendations, including a new "community network of care” system, a new 11-member board of directors accountable to the President, and a slew of totally obvious ideas like better computer systems. Give me a break.

Welcome to another edition of Big Government rumbling, bumbling, stumbling and fumbling. Got a problem? Let’s just appoint a few more commissions and throw money at  consultants. Meantime, our Vets are dying and nothing changes.

Want a good idea? You better brace yourself. How about the dreaded Private Sector! What gets rid of inefficiency and corruption best? Competition for the almighty buck!

There are 152 regional VA hospitals and nearly 1,400 community-based outpatient clinics. Sell them, one to five in a group. Remember, we want competition. At $1B each (hospitals), that’s $152B, about the annual operating budget of the system. The new unit under construction in Aurora, CO is $1B over budget and years late; $100 doors came in at $1,400. They can’t run them and they can’t build them. Then, issue healthcare cards to our Vets good at any doctor or hospital anywhere. The cards will cover for all the care and procedures and benefits Vets are entitled too. This wipes out the inefficient, corrupt, politically-manipulated layers of the VA, and taxpayers pay market rates straight to private, entrepreneurial, hungry, competitive businesses.

Finally, stay out of the way. Please!

Posted on 06 Jul 2016, 18:26 - Category: Veterans

By the Numbers, 7/5

A little more Hope and Change, anyone? What is stunning is how rapidly these disastrous numbers were achieved. Ms Pingree: please explain.

Source: Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis

Posted on 05 Jul 2016, 14:15 - Category: By The Numbers

By The Numbers, 7/1

From time to time, we'll report some numbers and facts you might find interesting.
• 1,600,000: number of citizens who have dropped out of ObamaCare this year.
• 2,300: number of Syrian refugees accepted into USA this month, a record.
• 23:  number of colleges, out of 76 deemed “best” by U.S. News & World Report, who require History majors to take American History.

Posted on 01 Jul 2016, 12:37 - Category: By The Numbers

Obama Boasts, While Numbers Belie His Fantasies

For May, US Department of Labor announced the lowest number of non-farm new jobs created since September 2010 - 38,000. Meantime, President Obama, on his "legacy tour" in Elkhart, IN, bragged, “The notion that somehow America is in decline is just not born out by the facts”. Clearly, the man lives in an alternate universe.

The 38,000 new jobs created were less that one quarter of the predictions and 140,000 below the average for the Jan - Apr period. It is estimated that the US economy needs 350,000 new jobs per month to get back to full health. Now, let's guess: did the official unemployment rate go up or down? If you hooked up a lie detector to the Obama regime, it would blow a fuse.

The purported unemployment rate dropped to an almost statistically-perfect 4.7%. Yup. A huge decline. So why aren’t happy days here again?

That’s because an additional 500,000 folks stopped looking for work. They gave up so they’re not included in the math.  The labor force participation rate sank again to 62.6%, the lowest since 1978. The total is now 94.7 million Americans who want to work who can’t find work. 

Meantime, Obama is telling us everything is rosy. 

    • Obama: “America’s economy is not just better than it was eight years ago — it is the strongest, most durable economy in the world.” Actually, China’s economy is far stronger, growing by an estimated 6.9 percent in 2015 — more than double the U.S. rate.

    • Obama: “We’ve seen the first sustained manufacturing growth since the 1990s.” Actually, manufacturing employment has declined by 35,000 in 2016, and it’s still down 2.2 percent from when Obama took office.

    • Obama: "Today, the average family’s health insurance premium is $2,600 less than it would have been if premiums had kept on going up at the pace before Obamacare.” Actually, there has been a decade-long slowdown in the growth of employer-sponsored health care premiums, and how much of it is attributable to the health care law is in dispute.

I am distressed by the lack of truth coming out of the Obama regime, and Washington in general. Now, we learn that the State Department edited an official record to cover up a lie, as did the Whitehouse with a statement by spokesman, Josh Earnest. I hope and trust the American people are watching and listening. I believe they are.

Posted on 04 Jun 2016, 12:33 - Category: Jobs & Economy

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