I have worked as a psychiatric nurse practitioner in the North Idaho community since 1998. It is a well-known but little acknowledged truth that individuals with serious mental health issues are not as likely to work full time or have health insurance. Because of the restrictive requirements for getting Medicaid in this state, a large percentage of my patients over the years have been uninsured.
Clinics that offer mental health care to the uninsured are inundated with patients and often understaffed to cope with the numbers needing help. As a result, there is a high burnout rate and turnover among providers. It is difficult to provide the excellent care we are trained to give when appointments are too short, too many, and scheduled eight weeks out. In addition, patients with no insurance and no funds must be treated with the medication samples on hand. As a provider, imagine how it feels to be forced to select medical treatment based on what is available in the sample cupboard. Patient assistance plans from pharmaceutical companies are available but the paperwork is cumbersome and the turnaround time is 4-6 weeks. Imagine how a parent feels when they hear that their schizophrenic child must wait 4-6 weeks to get needed medication!
There are many changes needed to improve mental health care in Idaho. But expanding Medicaid is an imperative first step. Please vote and vote YES for Proposition 2.
J. ROYE ELY, ARNP