Communications from SPW

October 30, 2018

Would You Wait Three Decades?

Hands reaching out toward womanWhether you wait three hours or three decades, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Politics aside, the media and others should be incredibly ashamed of their behavior.

The reckless victim-blaming appalled me.

In no case have I ever seen one’s unwillingness to come forward affect one’s credibility. Continue reading “Would You Wait Three Decades?”

October 29, 2018

Feds Will Subsidize Junk Health Coverage

Washington Post tweet about new guidance, featuring CMS Administrator Seema VermaRecent guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services encourages states to take new steps to circumvent the ACA. Specifically, it invites them to apply for Medicaid Section 1332 waivers in order to use ACA subsidies for short-term insurance and association health plans. These plans, originally intended only to tide people over between periods of more-permanent coverage, are little more than flimsy stop-gaps that scarcely merit the name of real health insurance. Continue reading “Feds Will Subsidize Junk Health Coverage”

September 19, 2018

Sexual Assault: A Community’s Responsibility

Mural of womanOnce at a high school track meet, a boy grabbed my butt. Before I could do anything, he scurried back to his group of male friends where they proceeded to point and laugh at me.

Later I told my mother what happened. She shared with me that a similar thing had happened to her when she was my age. It was comforting knowing that I was not alone. But it was frustrating knowing that my experience, like hers, would most likely not be addressed or taken seriously by any authority figure. Continue reading “Sexual Assault: A Community’s Responsibility”

September 6, 2018

A Strong, New Mental Health Parity Law

In Illinois, mental health and physcial health are equalBehavioral health coverage loopholes: Closed! SB 1707, a bipartisan mental health parity bill, is now the law of the state.

The bill, signed by Gov. Rauner on August 22, now Public Act 100-1023, strengthens the existing state parity law and arms the Department of Insurance with clear enforcement powers.

Calling it “the strongest mental health parity law in the nation,” the Kennedy Forum noted that introduction was spurred by a provider survey undertaken by the forum and its partners. Continue reading “A Strong, New Mental Health Parity Law”

August 24, 2018

VA Wrongly Denies MST Claims

Logos of the VA and VA OIGWe were distraught and disheartened – but sadly, not surprised – by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General report released Tuesday, which found that nearly half of the denied claims related to military sexual trauma were denied due to improper processing.

Wrongly denying services for MST is life-threatening. It is hard enough for a survivor to trust someone enough to disclose their experience in the first place – let alone go through this challenging process of applying for benefits only to be turned away. Continue reading “VA Wrongly Denies MST Claims”

August 14, 2018

Why the DIA is the Civil Rights Act of Today

Disability Integration Act supporterThe last 25 years have seen a massive shift toward preserving the ability of people with disabilities to remain integrated members of their communities. A bill now before Congress would go a long way toward making that the law of the land.

The Disability Integration Act addresses the fundamental issue that people who need long term services and supports (LTSS) are forced into institutions and thereby lose their basic civil rights. It would prohibit governments and insurers from denying home and community-based services (HCBS) that would enable these persons to live in the community and lead an independent life. Continue reading “Why the DIA is the Civil Rights Act of Today”

June 7, 2018

Empowering Patients to Drive Research

SCI Research Readiness Training Cohort Visit the site – see their stories
SCI Research Readiness Training Cohort
Visit the site – see their stories

We spend a great deal on medical research that often does not reflect the interests of people who have the condition.

In 2016, $171.8 billion was spent on medical and health research and development in the United States, the majority (67.4%) financed by industry, which includes biopharmaceutical developers, medical technology developers and healthcare service companies. Federal spending on medical and health research is subject to statutory budget caps.

The American Journal for Managed Care estimates that the US spends less than 5 cents of each health dollar on research and development. The result is industry-driven research that doesn’t reflect the needs and priorities of those who stand the most to gain from it – real people with the actual condition being studied. Continue reading “Empowering Patients to Drive Research”

May 16, 2018

What’s in Our New 1115 Behavioral Health Waiver?

Man in hoodie drinking by the side of the roadThis month, we celebrated the long-awaited approval of llinois’ 1115 behavioral health waiver. Having testified in 2016 on an early version of the proposal, we were gratified to see the initiative become a reality at last.

As you may know, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services was notified on May 7 that its proposal had finally been approved. The agency announced the program the same day. The first pilot kicks off in just six weeks. Continue reading “What’s in Our New 1115 Behavioral Health Waiver?”

April 30, 2018

Why We Started: Our Story of Impacting Survivors

Shot from above of sneakers next to Passion Led Us Here on sidewalkSeven years ago, started what would impact thousands of MST survivors. We conducted military culture trainings for civilian clinicians around Illinois with the goal of getting them to sign up as volunteers or with Tricare. We wanted to increase the network of behavioral health providers in our state willing to work with veterans.

A new documentary came out called “The Invisible War.” The documentary was about military sexual assault. Thinking the film seemed interesting, we considered screening the movie and moderating a discussion.

Wanting to get the military’s take on the matter, we asked a colleague if he had seen it. Continue reading “Why We Started: Our Story of Impacting Survivors”

April 13, 2018

How a Commander Learned to Support Survivors

Baptism by fire is how I would describe my early career as a junior officer in the Armed Forces. (This post is in the words of an anonymous commander.) During that time, sexual assault and harassment was a foreign term to me in the context of the military. I never thought twice about being alone in the woods or in close quarters with another soldier regardless of how long I knew that person. Maybe I was naïve, but the thought never crossed my mind that threats could also exist within. Make no mistake, I knew these atrocities existed in my world but to me they were few and far between and how they were addressed was outside of my pay grade. When I became Company Commander my level of responsibility drastically changed. Continue reading “How a Commander Learned to Support Survivors”