Grassroots Advocacy Network:
Kansas Voices for Mental Health
NAMI Kansas is partnering with the Kansas Mental Health Coalition to expand the opportunities for mental health advocacy for Kansans. This project is for you if:
- You have an interest in being part of a visionary project designed to impact policy decisions about mental health
- You are an individual living with mental illness, a family member, a service provider, or an advocate with an interest in mental health policy.
- You are looking to be engaged as a leader working with state and local policy makers.
- You understand the urgency of addressing the mental health needs of Kansans and the costs to individuals and communities for untreated mental illness.
- You are looking to grow your advocacy skills and your influence with policy makers.
The project is described in more detail in the downloadable project description. We are seeking to recruit and train mental health advocates from among consumers, family members, service providers and others interested in the mental health field to build a statewide network of legislative district advocates to influence public policy through their state and local elected officials. The project is an ongoing activity of the Coalition.
Advocates will establish relationships with elected officials at the local level and will receive key mental health policy updates and action alerts. They will partner with local mental health groups to expand the number of individuals who are contacting policymakers.
Training events in locations around the state will be scheduled on an annual basis. Resources will be available to defray registration and travel costs for those who cannot otherwise afford to participate.
Please be aware that this advocacy training is practice-based and requires that participants be willing to write and share their experience with mental illness and recovery from their perspective as an individual with lived experience of mental illness, family member, provider or advocate.
To become a Kansas District Advocate with the KMHC click here to apply online.
Click here for a link to identify your elected officials.
Please consider whether this opportunity is for you and anyone else you may know who might consider being a part of the project. Thank you for helping us to spread the word and to recruit applicants for the Grassroots Advocacy Network: Kansas Voices for Mental Health.
Questions? Contact Rick Cagan at 785-233-0755 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Health Insurance Parity
Is your group health plan in compliance with the federal parity law? Mental health parity is the recognition of mental health conditions as equivalent to physical illnesses. Historically, many health insurance companies limited benefits for mental health to a much lower level than those available for physical conditions. With the passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) mental health parity is the law of the land. We need your help to make compliance with the federal parity law a reality. it is important that the federal agencies charged with enforcement of parity protections hear from persons with mental illness and family members about their experience in confronting ongoing practices in health insurance and limitations that apply only to mental health benefits that are likely violations of MHPAEA. Parity violations include plans more strictly managing or denying mental illness treatment services more than other services covered by the plan. More information may be found at http://parityispersonal.org/
What can I do to help? Persons with mental illness and family members are urged to email parity violation stories to both the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. NAMI encourages stories to be reported by both persons with mental illness and families that are still struggling to access non-discriminatory coverage for mental illness treatment services.Be sure to tell your personal story and attach any relevant documents (if available) such as a denial letter, summary of benefits or other materials provided by the health plan. Following are some examples of common problems with parity that other providers or consumers have registered:
- Outpatient sessions are being limited by utilization review (also known as medical necessity review) and this is not being done for medical and surgical conditions.
- Provider reimbursement rates are too low, so the provider has to offer services out-of-network and the patient has to pay a higher out of pocket for their treatment.
- The insurance company has labeled treatments as “experimental” and therefore are refusing to pay for those treatments, leaving the patient to pay 100% out of pocket, or go without.
- The insurance company says that a plan does not cover residential treatment or intensive outpatient care.
- The insurance company says that a plan does not cover inpatient or residential treatment unless it is provided in an acute care hospital, but most of the treatment providers are non-hospital based facilities.
- A patient has requested from their insurance company the reason why they have been denied care and the insurance company does not respond to requests for further information, or they refuse information about what they do for medical and surgical care, or they refer the patient to an enormous website that is confusing or hard to navigate.
Send your email to:
Be sure to send a copy of your message to email@example.com.
A thorough study of the barriers to achieving parity in mental health benefits for those with private insurance coverage was completed in 2006 by a Task Force of the Governor’s Mental Health Services Planning Council. Click here to download a copy of the report.
A major obstacle to getting true parity in mental health benefits for those with private insurance is the lack of official complaint data at the Kansas Insurance Department (KID) from policy holders who have been denied adequate, appropriate, or timely treatment. NAMI Kansas encourages consumers and family members to make formal complaints through appropriate channels and we encourage providers to encourage their clients in this regard. Please consider sharing a copy of your complaint with NAMI Kansas so that we might better represent the needs of policy holders on this issue.”
To initiate a complaint with KID, you may click on the following link to the website at the Insurance Commissioner’s office: http://www.ksinsurance.org/department/complaint.php
You may also put your concerns in writing and address them to the KID using the following contact information:
Kansas Insurance Department
Attn: Consumer Assistance
420 SW 9th Street
Topeka, KS 66612-1678
Phone: (785) 296-3071
KS Toll Free: 1 (800) 432-2484
TTY/TDD (877) 235-3151