Archive for October 10th, 2008

Pete Domenici’s Mental Health Bill

October 10th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Wall Street Journal

As part of last week’s bailout legislation, Congress passed a bill requiring insurers to provide mental health benefits equivalent to those for physical illness.

It would not have happened without Pete Domenici, the 76 year old Republican from New Mexico who will retire soon due to a progressive neurologic disease.

Domenici’s interest in mental health policy began after his daughter was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He spent time with parents in similar circumstances and heard tales of financial ruin resulting from inadequate insurance.

In 1996, Domenici stood before his Senate brethren to announce “now is the time” to pass mental health parity legislation. The bill passed the Senate easily and was folded in to a larger legislative package. It was then dropped during negotiations with the House, which had been lobbied by insurance companies.

Domenici then had to shelve the cause for years because his fellow Republicans controlled the House and opposed the bill. Another tragic setback occurred when, in 2002, co-sponsor Paul Wellstone (D-Min) was killed in a plane crash.

The bill picked up steam again in 2004 but it took 4 more years before Domenici had a passable bill with teeth.

Remarkably, a week before the bill passed, Domenici wasn’t sure if it would. “Either it happens or it doesn’t,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I’ve done the best I could. This is a tough one that should have been easy.”

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Financial Woes Stress Women More

October 10th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Am. Psychological Assoc.

The moribund  economy exacts an emotional toll on many Americans, but according to the 2008 Stress in America survey released by the American Psychological Association (APA) this week, women and young adults are particularly hard hit.

More women than men report being stressed by housing costs (66% vs. 58%), the economy (84% vs. 75%) and economy-related health problems (70% vs. 63%).

The phenomenon is pronounced among older women, where the number reporting stress caused by the economy and health problems is 92% and 87% respectively.

Generation Xers (aged 30-43) and Millennials (aged 18-29) are stressing, too. Women Gen Xers report the highest levels of stress about money (89%), while Millennials worry more than any other group about housing costs (75%).

Women are also more likely to report unhealthy responses to stress such as eating poorly (56% vs. 40% for men) and shopping (25% vs. 11%).

The APA’s Katherine Nordal, PhD offered this advice: “Refrain from getting caught up in doom-and-gloom hype…reach out to family, friends and trusted advisors…receiving support from others is effective in managing stress. If you feel overwhelmed…consider seeking professional help.”

People can obtain more information about managing stress at the APA help center.

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New Law Targets Internet Pharmacies

October 10th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Wall Street Journal

President Bush will soon sign legislation that prohibits Internet pharmacies from dispensing controlled substances such as Ritalin and OxyContin (pictured) to just about anyone, whether or not they’ve seen a physician or have a prescription.

The law requires that US-based online pharmacies make sure prospective customers have a valid prescription and have been examined by a physician before filling an order. Mainstream online pharmacies like drugstore.com and the web sites of CVS Caremark and Walgreen’s already do this.

These days, prescription drug abuse rivals illegal drug abuse as a public health issue. In the US, 15.8 million people reported abusing a controlled substance in 2006, including 2.2 million teenagers. That number has doubled since 1992, and it exceeds the total number of people who use cocaine, heroin, inhalants and hallucinogens combined.

The bill has its problems. It does not crack down on offshore pharmacies nor does it cover non-controlled substances with high abuse potential such as Soma, a muscle relaxant. The bill also fails to pressure search engines, mail delivery businesses and credit-card companies that enable the rogue pharmacies.

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