August 2020 Updates from The Kennedy Forum | The Kennedy Forum

August 2020 Updates from The Kennedy Forum
August 26, 2020

In August, former Congressman and founder of The Kennedy Forum Patrick J. Kennedy joined California State Senator Scott Weiner in urging the state Assembly to pass a landmark parity bill that will finally hold insurers accountable for equal coverage of mental health and addiction treatment services—when Californians need it most. After the press conference, two key Assembly committees advanced the bill. Watch a press conference about SB 855, which is sponsored by The Kennedy Forum and Steinberg Institute, and learn about other recent activity below.

Policy Pulse

California Senate Bill 855 passed the Assembly Health Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Watch the press conference featuring Patrick J. Kennedy here. View our infographic on SB 855 here. As always, The Kennedy Forum would like to thank Sutter Health for generously supporting work to advance mental health parity in California.

The Kennedy Forum also signed on to this letter from Shatterproof calling on California Assemblymembers to take action and address the surging overdose death rates in the state.   

A new Milliman study shows people with behavioral and physical health conditions have much higher total health care costs; however, spending for behavioral health treatment is only a small portion of total health care spending. This data will go a long way in helping advocates fight for integrated care. As a supporter of The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use, which commissioned the study, The Kennedy Forum co-issued this press release.

Campaigns & Resources  

The Kennedy Forum’s latest round of Don’t Deny Me campaign posts for partner organizations addressed International Overdose Awareness Day and back-to-school anxiety. See a sample post here.

To help spread the word about the importance of recent Milliman data, The Kennedy Forum produced this infographic.

Coalition Building

Mental Health for Us, for which The Kennedy Forum serves as a coalition leader and Patrick J. Kennedy serves as co-chair, is a nonpartisan educational initiative designed to elevate mental health and addiction in policy conversations during the 2020 election cycle. In August, Mental Health for US promoted their #TalkaboutMentalHealth social media campaign and toolkit, designed to encourage party leaders to include discussions around mental health and addiction at the 2020 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

The Kennedy Forum recently attended the monthly Zoom meeting of the Well Being Working Group, which focuses on the prevention of addiction and suicide. The featured speaker for August was Allison Blakenship, Legislative Assistant for Congresswoman Lucy McBath, who discussed the Improving Data Collection for Adverse Childhood Experiences Act (HR 7689). You can learn more about the bill here.

Upcoming Events

On September 10, Patrick will be speaking as part of the One Mind at Work Global Forum. More info here

On September 15 at 2pm ET, Patrick will speak as part of the National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health’s Public Policy Webinar Series addressing issues that have a significant impact on the delivery of children’s behavioral health in the U.S. Learn more here.
On September 19, Patrick will be a guest speaker at the Elizabeth Morgan One Mind ASPIRe program. More info here

On October 8 at 1pm ET, Patrick will participate in a panel discussion about behavioral health care with Dr. Michael Genovese and BEDLAM’s Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg, hosted by Acadia Healthcare. More information coming soon.

On October 21 at 6pm PT, Patrick will receive the Jim Preis Memorial Award at Mental Health Advocacy Services’ Virtual Annual Celebration. The event unites attorneys, mental health professionals, advocates, consumers, and supporters to honor those fighting to protect and advance the rights of people with mental health disabilities. More information here

On October 23, 2020 Patrick will be honored with the 2020 Beck Institute Excellence Award the at the annual Beck Institute Excellence Summit (virtual). He will also participate in a panel discussion called “Understanding the Growing Mental Health Crisis: A Conversation about Access, Advocacy, and Parity.” Tickets to the event will be available on a pay-what-you-can basis. Proceeds will fund professional training for clinicians treating primarily minority clients, active duty and veteran military service members, and individuals diagnosed with a serious mental health condition. Learn more here.

Media Coverage

To shine a spotlight on the urgent need for integrated health care, Patrick authored an op-ed featuring the latest Milliman data. “Our medical professionals must be trained to screen for common conditions and work in conjunction with mental health and addiction treatment providers. Insurers must reimburse providers fairly to maintain diverse networks. Our hospital systems must rebuild antiquated infrastructures to include collaborative care. And policymakers must introduce and support legislation to fund these efforts.” Read the op-ed here

Patrick was recently featured in an article by California State of Mind explaining the significance of SB 855 and its impact on mental health and addiction treatment. “The taxpayers of California are really shouldering the burden of cherry-picking by insurance companies … [frequent denials] are forcing counties to pick up the pieces of a broken insurance system.” Read the full article here.  

Patrick authored a Forbes column with One Mind’s Garen Staglin about how to take a stand for mental health ahead of the November elections. “Now more than ever, our leaders must understand the complex emotional toll that the pandemic, the recession, and systemic racism have taken on Americans and take steps to address it. The 2020 election can serve as a powerful springboard for finally prioritizing mental health and addiction literacy, prevention, and treatment.” Read the full column here.