President Message


Summer 2020  |  Issue 44

President's Message - 2021 and Operation Do The Right Thing!
 
Dear Members,
How are you? How have your lives changed? I am happy to say we have received no news of covid deaths among our members, though I am sure you have all been affected by the tragedies of this year.
 
IPS members are our most valuable asset. We love to hear from you, about what you’re doing, what you hope for IPS to do, and how you’re coping with the year we’ve been through. Thank you for being there, in your career, and thanks for your participation in IPS. 
 
We held our “annual meeting” (originally planned for 3/28/20) on 11/19/2020 by zoom. Dr. Lise Van Susteren gave a wonderful presentation about climate change and psychiatry. 
 
Sad news: 
Our dear, wise legislative guardian angel and guru, Betsy Mitchell will be moving on. She has been drafted back to her former profession in the real estate world.  We are grateful to her for patiently holding our hands, responding to phone calls and texts at all hours, and guiding us through the political mysteries of Springfield with such acumen and grace. 
 
We learned from Betsy to build relationships with our legislators, to rejoice over baby steps toward our goals, and to aim for more progress in the next general assembly. Betsy made a lasting positive imprint on IPS. We will treasure the lessons and successes she has brought us. Thank you, Ms. Betsy Mitchell. We wish you joy and peace.
 
Glad news:  

Now, we have a new, terrific lobbyist, Mark Peysakhovich. He will start immediately to anticipate needs, prevent problems, and help us organize our legislative campaigns.
 
In IPS, as in psychiatric practice, we strive for better lives for our patients, and better systems for our profession. This occurs incrementally within personal and political relationships. Let’s apply what we psychiatrists know how to do, to making Illinois a better place. If we each make contact with our representatives and senators, they will appreciate hearing from you, and you can be an advocate for what you believe in. IPS will help you do this.
 
What’s coming:
We are prioritizing IPS goals, and designing appropriate programs and communications for this new era:
  • Recruit Black and Brown psychiatrists into IPS, to reflect the patients we serve 
  • Mentor and network with medical students, residents, early career psychiatrists
  • Survey Illinois psychiatrists about their experience of telehealth, to support legislation
  • Keep the care of mental health and substance use disorders safe and effective
  • Ensure passage of a telehealth bill, with the IL Coalition for telehealth
  • Cooperate with primary care doctors to expand use of the Collaborative Care Model
  • Require health insurers to use standards of care to authorize mental health or addiction treatment
  • Strengthen training requirements and accreditation for mid-level mental health practitioners
  • Promote training and licensure for mental health peer support personnel
  • Plan IPS virtual events for fun, fellowship, and learning, to look forward to each month 
  • Draw more members by offering support, advocacy, activities, and messages of value 
We would like your opinions! Please send your goals, wishes and needs to Meryl Sosa, msosa@ilpsych.org or Kristen Malloy, kmalloy@ilpsych.org.
 
The IPS legislative agenda:
Increase access to quality care in Illinois, through all possible avenues. We will be contacting you as we gather data in support of preserving the current pandemic-era rules for telehealth.
 
IPS will bring a new bill to the General Assembly, which opens on January 13, 2021, based on model legislation developed by APA and the Kennedy Forum. This law will tell insurers to obey the parity laws already in place, but with more specific attention to that giant loophole, medical necessity criteria. Some historical context:
 
In the news:    
Washington, D.C., December 10, 2020 – Today, The Kennedy Forum released the Jim Ramstad Model State Parity Legislation, which will hold health insurers accountable for discriminating against those with mental health and substance use disorders by wrongly denying coverage of care. 

The Ramstad model state parity legislation reinforces the IL mental health parity act of 1996:
The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 required that large group health plans could not impose annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits that were less favorable than the limits imposed on medical and surgical benefits. 
 
This in turn reinforced the federal community mental health act of 1963:
On October 31, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Community Mental Health Act (also known as the Mental Retardation and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963), which drastically altered the delivery of mental health services and inspired a new era of optimism in mental healthcare. 
 
Profit motives of health insurance systems perpetuate inequity in the United States by being unaffordable in the first place, and, by withholding essential benefits. Everyone should be able to get screening, preventive care, and to see a doctor when sick. Everyone should receive the mental health care that underlies optimal physical, social, and occupational function.  
 
We need to keep on beating the drum for access to safe mental health care for all of Illinois. Lawmakers need to know we are medical doctors, we can help expand access to care through telehealth and collaborative care, and we can help craft evidence-based systems of care to preserve the highest quality without risking safety.
 
This is going to be a fantastic year.

By looking out for our neighbors, genuinely “seeing” and hearing each other, supporting those who need food and housing, attending to the climate, resolving conflicts at home and abroad, and healing the people and communities who have suffered the greatest losses, we can make this a kinder, gentler year. 
 
Stay safe, stay well, keep in touch.
Susan M. Scherer, MD

 
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