I can only think space aliens must have invaded the NC Senate and secretly taken control. It’s not completely far-fetched. After all, Robert Heinlein’s classic 1951 sci-fi story “The Puppet Masters” described how it could happen in Iowa. (He wrote that before the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” movie by the way.)
My evidence? The debate on mental health parity today in the Senate Health Committee. The bill that passed the House wasn’t perfect but at least it required the same coverage for mental illness as for other illnesses – just not substance abuse. Senators approved today a new bill that limits the equal coverage requirement to only nine mental illnesses. Other mental illnesses would have a 30-day / 30 office visit treatment limitation. Illnesses exempted from equal coverage requirements are mostly those that affect children – like treatment for autism.
Displaying gall worthy of George Bush’s immortal “mission accomplished,” Senators voted to approve parity with the illness limitations and, of course, an exemption of their own health coverage from these limits (and that of other state employees).
Why? Well, the state health plan already has full parity for mental health and substance abuse coverage with no arbitrary limits. God forbid the august members of the NC Senate should subject themselves and their families to the same limits they are asking the rest of the state to live with. If your child has autism you would have to be bound by the 30 day / 30 visit treatment limits. If a legislator’s child has autism – no such limits exist.
I’m no mental health professional, but even I know autism isn’t a disease that is cured in under 30 days or with 30 office visits. NC Senators who voted for this bill passed it as “what’s possible in the Senate.” Apparently what’s possible is morally wrong – asking others to live with limits you wouldn’t consider for your own family.
Finally, at least one Senator, apparently not suffering from the alien invasion, spoke up and asked just where the list of nine covered mental health diseases had come from. Did a doctor draw it up? Earlier Dr. Jack Naftel, a psychiatrist and professor at the UNC School of Medicine, had testified that there was no scientific basis for such a list and most of the diseases left off the list were diseases affecting children.
Surprise, surprise. NC Blue Cross finally spoke and admitted they had drafted the list. Apparently no psychiatric or scientific basis existed for their decisions – just the testimony of the family physician who now serves as NC Blue Cross’s medical director that those nine illnesses made up many of their claims.
So, we have NC Senators, at the behest of a giant insurance company, substituting their “medical” judgment in direct contradiction of a real psychiatrist from the nationally-renowned Department of Psychiatry at UNC. We have NC Senators making medical decisions for the people of the state as to what specific diseases should be covered and what shouldn’t be covered – a Terri Schiavo amendment if there ever was one. Finally, we have NC Senators exempting themselves and their families from the results of their puppet-directed meddling. I’d say the aliens have invaded – let’s hope they don’t target NASCAR next. Wait – Junior, Jeff Gordon? Maybe they already have.