Shortage Of Mental Health Services Underscored By Health Law

The impact of the health law on individuals needing mental health services, as well as on small businesses and the homeless are explored by various media outlets.

The Wall Street Journal: For The Mentally Ill, Finding Treatment Grows Harder
Last year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 91 million adults lived in areas like here where shortages of mental-health professionals made obtaining treatment difficult. A departmental report to Congress earlier this year said 55% of the nation's 3,100 counties have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers, a combination of budget cuts and doctors leaving the profession. … Such shortages are expected to only grow now, as the federal health-care law goes into effect and allows more people to seek help. Indeed, according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, some 6.8 million uninsured people with a mental illness will gain coverage after federal and state health insurance exchanges implement the new law (Fields and Corbett Dooren, 1/16).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Small-Business Plan Lags Behind In Face Of Cost
Enrollment in Obamacare health plans for small businesses is off to a slow start, leaving in doubt whether the U.S. program can attract enough customers to satisfy insurers. Greeted by higher premiums, less generous coverage and more paperwork, small businesses that offer health coverage to employees are choosing to renew existing plans rather than buy them through President Barack Obama’s program (Wayne, 1/17).

Kaiser Health News: Signing Up The Homeless, One At A Time
On a recent winter morning, health outreach worker Christopher Mack walked through the streets and alleys of the city’s Skid Row, passing a man pulling a rusty shopping cart and a woman asleep on a crumpled blue tarp. The smell of marijuana wafted through the cold air. ‘Do you have health insurance?’ Mack, a towering man with long dreadlocks, asked one woman. ‘Do you go to the doctor?’ he asked another. Homeless men and women who didn’t qualify for insurance in the past now have the chance to sign up, and Mack – who was once homeless himself -- is there to help (Gorman, 1/17).

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