Concentration Area: Advocacy and Activism
- Authors: Erin Kelly
- Abstract: Background: American children have a significant lack of access to mental health care. A shortage of mental health professionals, specifically child psychiatrists, and lack of
health insurance are the major barriers to access. Even when children have health insurance, parity discrepancies hamper or limit their access to mental health care. Legislation pending in Congress would attempt to improve access through a number of measures including loan forgiveness programs, extending parity requirements, and
expansion of public and affordable private insurance options for children and families. Methods: Possible legislative solutions were evaluated based on a literature review of
previous or existing programs or methods of a similar nature, such as loan forgiveness or scholarship programs for primary care providers working in underserved populations
and the impact of previous parity laws on increasing mental health care access.
Results: Loan forgiveness programs successfully recruit physicians to underserved communities, but over time, often fail to retain doctors. Previous parity legislation and additional insurance options increased access to care. Discussion: Although the current
political climate has placed health care reform in limbo, most of the proposals are extensions of or similar to existing programs that passed with bipartisan support. Students wishing to get involved in the legislative process have a variety of options, such as lobbying through national or local organizations, working with not-for-profit advocacy groups or directly with legislators, especially through internships, and testifying at hearings.
- Journal: The Klingenstein Games
- Month: February
- Year: 2010