Archive for August, 2007

Senate Bill 558

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

It will come as no surprise to Big Pharma watchers that the industry is lining up behind the passage of Senate Bill 558, The Mental Health Parity Act of 2007. AstraZeneca, for example, has a two-page spread in the September Atlantic in which they inform us that, “Today, one in five adult Americans suffers from mental illness.”

“Parity” would mean that insurance companies would have to pay for so-called mental illnesses just as they now pay for physical illnesses. What fair-minded person would question that? The American Psychological Association (an organization from which I resigned several years ago in part in response to its political activism) doesn’t question it. (Albuquerque Journal op-ed article by Russ Newman, Ph.D., JD, August 20, 2007)

In so doing, APA implicitly acknowledges that there are such entities as mental illnesses and that they can be treated by medical means. That is, they acknowledge that the techniques used by psychologists are a sub-set of all medical techniques, and that they should therefore be paid for by medical insurance. This position is an ongoing outcome of the Faustian bargain I discuss elsewhere on this website.

There are, of course, no such things as mental illnesses (but there are, as I discuss in my book, Healing the Hurting Soul, mad-making histories). Establishing parity for their “treatment” is just one more way that Big Pharma is creating captive populations as markets for their products.

If anything, a much better way to heal those people invidiously described as “mentally ill” would be to move in the opposite direction from parity. We should, in my opinion, completely remove the techniques with which we “treat” the so-called mentally ill from insurance coverage. Instead we should fund the healing of these people from public money. In this way we would completely divorce their care from any fee-for-service mechanism.

Look at how well, i.e., more effective and humane, such healing has fared in the past (and to a limited degree in the present). I am convinced, and have been for about 25 years, that the best mental health care in my state takes place not at the largest state university-run mental health clinic (which is partly state-funded but which depends on insurance reimbursements) but at the state hospital.