(sent by email to Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci at GOffice@state.ma.us)
April 26, 2000
Dear Governor Cellucci:
Please veto S2036, the mental health parity bill. Below is a copy of the letter I sent you about this bill (by U.S. mail) almost two months ago.
Douglas A. Smith
P.O. Box 1253, Topeka, Kansas 66601-1253
March 2, 2000
The Hon. Paul Cellucci
Governor of Massachusetts
Boston, MA 02133
Dear Governor Cellucci:
The mental health parity bill now in a conference committee and soon to reach your desk, S2036, is a very bad piece of legislation, despite its unanimous passage in both houses of the Legislature. It will probably cause the deaths of people in Massachusetts who otherwise would have not received lethal psychiatric "treatment" - deaths due to neuroleptic malignant syndrome caused by so-called antipsychotic drugs and cruel, sometimes deadly, use of physical restraints in psychiatric "hospitals." Many others will be forced to take psychiatric drugs that cause a disease called tardive dyskinesia that is much worse than the psychological symptoms the drugs are supposed to treat. See "Jenelle's Story," [a copy of which I enclosed with my March 2 letter]. This bill will also cause many people to live with psychiatric stigma for the rest of their lives they would otherwise have avoided. This bill is very good for psychiatry but is very harmful to the people of Massachusetts.
If signed by you, the bill will require health insurance companies to provide coverage for supposedly "biologically-based mental disorders." However, there is no such thing as a "biologically-based mental disorder" - particularly not those said to be so in S2036!! If you disagree, please read the first two pages of the [previously] enclosed pamphlet, "Does Mental Illness Exist?" by Lawrence Stevens, J.D. As Elliot S. Valenstein, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan, says in his book Blaming the Brain: The TRUTH About Drugs and Mental Health: "Contrary to what is often claimed, no biochemical, anatomical, or functional signs have been found that reliably distinguish the brains of mental patients" (Free Press, New York, 1998, page 125).
"Mental health" isn't really an aspect of health, and psychiatry isn't really a type of health care. Without a biological cause, a diagnosis of "mental health" or "mental illness" can be based only on the "diagnostician's" conception of how a person "should" be in terms of thinking, mood, or behavior. In other words, determination of what is "mental health" or "mental illness" is arbitrary. Mental health is a matter of values, not biology as real diseases are.
Health care insurance companies should not be required by law to include health care quackery under the terms of their health care insurance policies, but S2036 requires them to do exactly that. Yes, biological psychiatry is a type of health care quackery. Everything psychiatrists do (other than listening and offering friendly advice, which is called "psychotherapy") is either useless or harmful or both. Psychiatric drugs, electric shock treatment, and psychosurgery are all harmful. They literally damage the brains of people who are subjected to them! If you don't think so, read the [previously] enclosed excerpts from books by psychiatrist/neurologist Sidney Walker III, M.D., and psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., and the [previously] enclosed pamphlets titled "Psychiatric Drugs - Cure or Quackery?" and "Psychiatry's Electroconvulsive Shock Treatment - A Crime Against Humanity" by Lawrence Stevens, J.D.
Psychiatry's and psychology's nonbiological "treatment" - counseling or "psychotherapy" - may sometimes be helpful, but it isn't health care and so shouldn't be required to be included in health care insurance policies.
If enacted, this bill will cause more people to be subjected to human rights violations that are now commonplace and which should not happen anywhere, especially in the U.S.A., for reasons explained in the [previously] enclosed article, "Cuckoo's Nest" by Eugene Methvin. This bill, if enacted, will cause more people to be subjected to needless involuntary psychiatric "hospitalization" and forced "medication" and extremely cruel use of physical restraints, not for their own benefit, but for the purpose of making huge profits for private psychiatric hospitals at the expense of those who pay health-care premiums. See the comments by Dr. Sidney Walker in his book A Dose of Sanity at pages 179-181 and the pamphlet "Unjustified Psychiatric Commitment in the U.S.A." which states the conclusions of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families in 1992 about this problem.
You will find these and other convincing arguments against psychiatry on our Antipsychiatry Coalition web site: www.antipsychiatry.org.
Another argument against compulsory mental health benefits in health insurance is some people such as myself do not want to have such coverage, not because we don't want to pay higher premiums but because we don't believe in psychiatry. Why shouldn't we be free to make that choice? The finding in 1992 of the above mentioned Congressional study that people who have mental health insurance are targeted for unnecessary, unwanted, involuntary psychiatric "hospitalization" is one reason I feel this way.Governor Cellucci, please veto S2036 and any similar legislation that reaches you. Perhaps a veto from you will make enough legislators wake up and realize what a mistake they have made to prevent your veto from being overridden.
Douglas A. Smith
Reply by Marylou Sudders, Massachusetts Commissioner of Mental Health:
May 24, 2000
Douglas A. Smith
The Antipsychiatry Coalition
P.O. Box 1253
Topeka, Kansas 66601-1253
Dear Mr. Smith:
Your letter to Governor Cellucci concerning insurance coverage of mental illness has come to my attention. It is obvious you feel that the argument for treating mental illness in the same way as heart disease, lung problems and cancer when it comes time to pay the bill only at the behest of those providing psychiatric treatment.[sic] I assure you, this is not the case.
Mental health insurance parity is an example of the changing health care environment. Thirty-one (31) states, including Massachusetts and all of the states in New England, have insurance parity laws that level the playing field for people with mental illness, ensuring they receive the same insurance benefits as people with other medical illnesses. There has been no hue and cry about staggering commercial premium rate increases in these states. Massachusetts is the most recent state to adopt a mental health insurance parity law.
State laws, like that adopted in Massachusetts, plug gaping holes in the current federal law regarding insurance coverage of mental illness on a par with physical ailments. Federal legislation is expected to be filed soon that will require full insurance parity for severe mental illnesses by prohibiting unequal restrictions on annual and lifetime mental health benefits, inpatient hospital days and outpatient visits, and out-of-pocket expenses. The legislation is generally applauded as necessary to ensure compliance with the [federal] Mental Health Parity Act of 1996.
The Massachusetts Government Insurance Commission (GIC) has required equitable insurance coverage for the treatment of mental illness for all state employees since last July. There was no impact on premiums. At the first White House Conference on Mental Health in June, President Clinton announced that he would require parity in the coverage of 9 million federal employees through 285 private insurance plans.
In Massachusetts, a Coopers & Lybrand actuarial study of the impact of a full mental health insurance parity bill estimated the maximum impact of proposed mental health parity in the state as equal to 2.5% of current employer claims, or about $3.53 per member per month. Adjustments by employers could and will reduce the increase to 1% or $1.41 per member per month for those in managed care programs. According to the study, the estimated cost impact to a typical employer with five employees/10 dependents is $10.59 per month for the entire group. A noted actuary says that costs are no longer a factor in the parity discussion.
Governor Cellucci has unequivocally supported mental health insurance parity. "By abolishing the double standard that has existed in the Commonwealth for far too long, people with severe and persistent mental illnesses can receive the treatment they need without exhausting their personal savings or that of their family," Governor Cellucci said when signing Massachusetts legislation into law May 2. "We have made great strides in Massachusetts in ensuring that people with psychiatric disorders receive the best possible care. The law takes this a step farther. Massachusetts likes to lead; we don't like to follow," the Governor said.
While medical privacy is particularly important to people with serious mental illness due to continued misperceptions about the illnesses, the law offers ample confidentiality and disclosure protections. As of January 1, 2001, only licensed mental health clinicians will be permitted to authorize or deny services; insurers and HMOs may not go beyond disclosure provisions specified for other medical conditions; the "anti-gag" provision in the existing privacy law that permits health care providers to discuss their patients' insurance coverage with them is in place; and the law contains another key provision requiring written consent of the insured before patient information is disclosed.
Among other things, the Massachusetts law:
- Mandates unlimited treatment benefits for all people with biologically based disorders like schizophrenia, severe depression and bipolar disorders;
- Mandates unlimited treatment for children who become depressed or suffer some other type of trauma, like the students and Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Those receiving unlimited benefits as a child would keep them as an adult; and
- Requires insurers to cover at least 60 days of hospitalization and 24 outpatient counseling visits annually for adults who suffer trauma, like seeing a person killed h~ [sic - in?] an automobile accident.
More importantly, the law will serve to combat the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness. Requiring insurers to treat the mentally ill in the same way as all others with medical illnesses speaks volumes in addressing stigma. Mental illness is an illness, it is treatable and treatment works.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about mental health insurance parity. Although we may still disagree on whether it is necessary, it is always worthwhile to hear differing points of view.
Commissioner of Mental Health
Dept. of Mental Health Central Office
25 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114
P.O. Box 1253, Topeka, Kansas 66601-1253
June 3, 2000
Dear Ms. Sudders:
Thanks for taking the time to reply to my letter to Governor Cellucci opposing state government mandated parity for psychiatry and other mental health "treatment" in private health insurance.
Will Rogers reportedly once said: "The problem with most folks isn't what they don't know. It's what they know that isn't so." This is true of you and psychiatry's other supporters.
Government mandated health insurance for psychiatry does not "level the playing field for people with mental illness." On the contrary, it makes more money available for oppressive, forced, harmful psychiatric "treatment" so-called mentally ill people do not want or need and which is harmful to them. Your statement is like saying making more money available for prosecution of criminals levels the playing field for indigent criminal defendants. It's nonsense.
I would like to have the option of buying health care insurance that has no psychiatric or other so-called mental health coverage - not because I want to pay lower premiums, but because I don't believe in psychiatry. Why should I be denied this choice? Why shouldn't a willing seller and a willing buyer of health insurance be permitted to contract for the coverage that is and is not wanted? Isn't America supposed to be a free country? Many people wrongfully confined in mental hospitals have regained their liberty only because their insurance benefits ran out. Mental health parity laws deprive such wrongfully incarcerated persons of this protection and encourage unjustified indeterminate incarceration. For this reason, mental health parity laws tempt me to go without health insurance. Having mental health insurance makes me a target for unjustified, involuntary "treatment" including imprisonment ("hospitalization"). I was once involuntarily committed for supposed mental illness, and my imprisonment ("hospitalization") was paid for by insurance. So for me the risk to my liberty created by having mental health insurance is not theoretical. It is very real.
In addition to motivating unjustified and wrongful use of involuntary commitment laws, mental health parity laws encourage the use of psychiatry's harmful supposed therapies, including brain-damaging drugs and electroconvulsive "therapy." It is ironic you mention "the students [at] Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo." According to Reclaiming Our Children, a truly outstanding book by psychiatrist Peter Breggin, one of the teenage shooters in the Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado massacre was taking a psychiatric drug at the time of the shootout (see page 4 of the book). So were Eric Harris (he was taking Luvox) and T.J. Solomon (he was taking Ritalin), the perpetrators of a shooting at Heritage High School in Conyers, Georgia - Kip Kinkel, a 15 year old who killed his parents and opened fire at his school in Oregon in 1998 (he had taken Prozac and was taking Ritalin at the time of the shooting) - Mitchell Johnson, age 13, and Andrew Golden, age 11, when they shot at their classmates at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas in 1998 - and Shawn Cooper, a 15 year old sophomore at Notus Junior-Senior High School in Notus, Idaho (he was taking Ritalin when he fired two shotgun rounds at students and school staff). (See page 19 of Reclaiming Our Children.) Psychiatry and its supposed treatments are more likely to cause such catastrophies than prevent them.
Mental health parity laws will not reduce psychiatric stigma as you suggest. By bringing more people within psychiatry's clutches, mental health parity laws will cause more people to become victims of psychiatric stigma.
Your reference to "biologically based disorders like schizophrenia, severe depression and bipolar disorders" and your assertion that "Mental illness is an illness, it is treatable[,] and treatment works" are incredibly ignorant. No so-called mental disorders have been scientifically proved to be "biologically based," particularly not schizophrenia (whichever of its many definitions you may be thinking of) or depression or so-called bipolar disorder; and psychiatric "treatment" harms rather than helps those who receive it.
I hope you will educate yourself by reading the articles found on our Antipsychiatry Coalition web site, www.antipsychiatry.org. If you read the articles on our web site with an open mind you will see we are right. We have truth on our side. You and psychiatry's other supporters do not. The recently passed laws supporting psychiatry do not prove the validity of the concept of mental illness or of psychiatry's "therapies" any more than the laws of the 1690s and the resulting Salem, Massachusetts witch trials proved the reality of witches and witchcraft.
Douglas A. Smith