Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a candidate for the 2020 presidential election, released her plan Tuesday for mental health care reform. This makes her one of the 10 candidates that have approached the topic of mental health care.
While mental health has come up in conversations about gun control and the opioid crisis, it’s rarely been a large focus in many politicians’ proposals. However, at least 10 presidential candidates for the 2020 election include mental health care in their plans for presidency. Gillibrand is the one of the only candidates focusing on mental health care resources in rural communities.
Roger Cheesbro, the CEO of Family Recovery Services (FRS) and a behavioral health professional for nearly 30 years, told The Times-Gazette that, “Like a lot of things in the rural areas in our country, it’s a sparsely populated area, so it’s sparsely served.”
Even when there are resources available, the cost of mental health services can deter those needing care from pursuing services. For example, at FRS, the cost of mental health treatment is based on a person’s income, and even then sometimes would-be clients aren’t able to afford it.
“Insurances don’t pay very well for behavioral health services,” Cheesbro said. “They’re supposed to pay for behavioral health services in much the same way they pay for medical services, and that just doesn’t seem to be the case.”
Presidential candidates aren’t the only ones thinking about mental health care reform. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order at the end July that will provide relief for Medicaid patients and care providers alike by providing more funding to reimburse providers.
“Gov. DeWine appears to be committed to providing opportunities for individuals to receive certain services and for the agencies to deliver them,” Cheesbro said. “It takes a while for these things to get up to full speed, but they’ve got to start somewhere.”
DeWine’s executive order went into effect on Aug. 1, and relief should come swiftly. Cheesbro explained that the executive order would help agencies who may have been forced to lay off staff members to bring more staff back on staff, which would create more availability for patients. The Ohio government has until late March 2020 to decide whether to keep, revise, or abandon the changes the executive order created.
“This will get better. We just can’t flip a switch and make things right overnight because they didn’t get wrong overnight,” Cheesbro said. “I don’t think any one person has the answers. We [American citizens] are the answer.”
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