U.S. House of Representatives Passes Health Care Bill, and Other News

Stormy day in the capitolThe House voted Thursday, by a narrow margin of 217-213, to repeal and replace significant portions of the Affordable Care Act. The bill now moves to the Senate. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the new law could leave 24 million more Americans without health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act ended the practice of denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions such as pregnancy and diabetes. Its 10 core health care benefits required coverage for pediatric and maternity care, mental health treatment, and other basic health care needs. It also expanded Medicaid, mandated that people purchase health insurance, and offered subsidies to help people afford insurance.

If the bill becomes law, it could affect coverage for mental health care and substance abuse. It may also penalize people who have previously sought care for mental health conditions or trauma. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, some health insurance companies treated sexual assault, postpartum depression, and domestic violence as pre-existing conditions. If the ACA federal ban on these denials is repealed, health insurers could again discriminate on the basis of a wide range of conditions and experiences.

Supreme Court Upholds California’s Ban on Gay ‘Conversion Therapy’

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected another challenge to California’s ban on conversion therapy for minors. This is the second time the Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling on conversion therapy. By refusing to hear the challenge, the Supreme Court allows the decision of a lower court—in this case, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco—to stand. Most conversion therapy groups argue that being non-heterosexual is immoral and unnatural, but most research shows sexual orientation can only be suppressed rather than changed. This suppression can contribute to lasting psychological harm, especially in young participants who are forced by their parents to undergo conversion therapy. Last week, democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would ban conversion therapy for all people younger than 18.

Half of Us Aren’t Happy to Discuss Mental Health at Work

Mental health issues such as depression and posttraumatic stress can affect work performance. A survey of 1,104 British adults suggests many people would prefer to keep these concerns quiet at work. Forty-nine percent said they would not discuss mental health issues with a boss, and 35% say they would discuss these concerns with colleagues.

Dr. Joseph Lifschutz, 92, Dies; Asserted Confidentiality Rights for Therapists

Psychiatrist Joseph Lifschutz died last month. Lifschutz’s refusal to produce treatment notes or to acknowledge treating a particular person in therapy landed him in jail for a week in 1969. His argument that confidentiality rights granted to lawyers, married couples, and members of the clergy should also extend to psychotherapists eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, establishing precedent that continues to protect confidentiality rights in therapy.

More Than Half of Mental Health NHS Patients Experience Relapses

According to a study of UK National Health Service (NHS) patients, 53% who sought mental health treatment experienced a relapse of depression or anxiety within a year of completing psychological treatment. Seventy-nine percent of relapses occurred within six months after treatment.

Just 10 Minutes of Meditation Helps Anxious People Have Better Focus

A wandering mind can lead to anxious thoughts, but mindfulness may help. According to a study of people with anxiety, just 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation can refocus attention, reducing the tendency of the mind to wander.

Adjusting Medications May Reduce Fall Risk in Older Adults

Older adults are more vulnerable to falls, and conditions such as osteoporosis can make these falls more dangerous. Mental health conditions can also increase the risk of falls, with a moderate increase in depression linked to a 30% increase in the risk of experiencing a fall during the next two years. This is due in part to the effects of psychiatric drugs, a new study suggests. Researchers say remaining active can help reduce the risk of falling, but tweaking medication dosage can also mitigate the risk.

Are Bullies Getting Run Out of U.S. Schools?

According to an ongoing survey that looked at bullying rates from 2005-2014, bullying rates declined over the last decade. About 13-29% of students reported bullying victimization at various points during the survey, though the overall rate dropped. There was also a 1-2% drop per year in the rate at which students admitted to bullying others. Researchers are uncertain what accounts for the decline, and students did not report statistically significant changes in their perception that adults were being more proactive to stop bullying.

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  • Floyd

    Floyd

    May 6th, 2017 at 7:48 AM

    We had to fight with doctors for years to reduce the number of medications that they always had my mother on. I knew that part of what went on with her had to do with interactions of certain medications that she was having to take and not necessarily something that needed to be treated.

    It is pretty bad when you feel like you are the only one who is advocating for your elderly parents, that the doctors are far more content to prescribe them a pill and then send them on their way.

  • Pelley

    Pelley

    May 8th, 2017 at 7:52 AM

    I guess that I should consider myself very lucky that I have a boss with whom I can talk about these things that might be uncomfortable talking about with someone else. His door has always been open for me and I have always felt very free to share the things going on in my life, both the good and the bad. I wish that more people had those kinds of work relationships with their employers.

  • zee

    zee

    May 10th, 2017 at 7:21 AM

    Well I am not saying to be harmful to another child but if they can’t behave and are harming another then why should they be able to continue that in school?

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