During the pandemic and in its wake, alcoholism soared. Alcohol consumption is also on the rise and alcohol-related deaths jumped 26% between 2019 and 2020.
When state governments locked down in 2020, they relaxed liquor regulations so that restaurants could sell beer, wine and cocktails to go and delivery services could bring booze to your door. Many of these changes stuck after the lockdowns ended.
Informed by his own struggle with substance abuse, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (DR.I.) wrote the Mental Health Parity and Substance Abuse Equity Act of 2008, which requires insurers to reimburse mental health care, including addiction treatment, as they would for physical health. care.
Ruth told him about the state of addiction in the country, the connection between mental health and addiction, and how public policy decisions can both hurt or help those with the disease.
The interview is edited for length and clarity.
Does the expanded distribution of alcohol have an effect on alcohol abuse in the United States?
We know that not everyone becomes an alcoholic. But even if 10 to 15% of the population has this predisposition, it represents 15% of some 100 million. That’s what we envision. It must therefore be understood that the more people have access to it, the more vulnerable people will fall over.
I was so alcoholic and drug addicted that I couldn’t put my hands on it. And I had to really plot and manipulate and cajole and hide. Today, I wouldn’t have to worry about all those things.
I’m sure my life was spared to some extent because it was harder for me to get alcohol.
What can decision makers do?
You answer them with data-driven solutions. We know that access is correlated with much higher levels of use. With tobacco, we have done a lot of things to contain it. So you always have to be vigilant.
We really need to have a public health approach, and the best way to do that is through public education and really building the skills of our young people to understand how to self-modulate. In other words, having problem-solving skills and coping mechanisms.
President Kennedy had a presidential fitness program, and we need to do mental fitness.
What about social safety net programs?
If we don’t pay for things like clubhouse models [that provide community-based services to aid] recovery that’s for both mental illness and addiction and if we don’t train people to have purpose and socialization and places to stay like sober housing you’re just going into battle with one hand tied behind the back.
We need to know what we are organizing for. Say, reduce alcohol-related deaths by 20%. This will include raising taxes. It will include greater regulation. You’re going to have to allow hospitals and Medicaid to sue alcohol distributors and manufacturers for collective damages caused by their products.
Should law and regulation treat alcohol more like tobacco?
Why not? I mean, alcohol probably has a worse impact on public health than tobacco.
We have completely lifted the cap on alcohol sales. Before, we had rules — you couldn’t advertise hard liquor. And we haven’t increased taxes on alcohol and beer to the same degree.
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It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to turn to anti-anxiety medication for more than a third of Americans who want to relieve the stress of being around family, according to new data from iPrescribe. Somehow it still seems weak. I’m just saying.
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Today on our Pulse check podcast, Daniel Payne talks to Lauren Gardner about how rural healthcare providers are trying to convince lawmakers to extend telehealth rules passed during the pandemic – which would expire after the Covid-19 public health emergency lifts .
Some of America’s Greatest the companies want Congress to expand a rule allowing high-deductible health plans to cover telehealth for subscribers who haven’t touched their deductibles.
The Connected Health Initiative, whose steering committee includes Apple, Microsoft, the American Medical Association and UnitedHealth Group, wrote to House and Senate leaders this week, asking them to extend a provision resulting from a law of 2020 that allows high-deductible health insurance plans to support virtual visits.
The provision, which Congress originally passed to help patients access care during the Covid-19 pandemic, will expire Dec. 31 if lawmakers do not act.
Big companies care because they have encouraged employees in recent years to enroll in high-deductible plans that:
- Reduce business insurance costs because plans with high deductibles are cheaper than plans with more extensive coverage
- Cover preventive care but require subscribers to pay the rate negotiated by insurers for sick visits, emergency care and hospitalizations until patients reach a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family, but these deductibles are often much higher.
More than 30 million Americans are enrolled in the plans, for a number of reasons:
- They pay low monthly premiums and can invest in health savings accounts.
- They can invest in an HSA with pre-tax dollars in stock and bond mutual funds and leverage those funds to pay their health care bills tax-free. Contributions are capped at $3,650 for individuals and $7,300 for families this year, but increase each year with inflation.
- Starting at age 65, holders of health savings accounts can withdraw funds to pay for non-medical expenses. These withdrawals are taxed as regular income.
Big companies in the Connected Health Initiative say patients would suffer if the provision does not go ahead.
Health insurers are on board as they want to encourage the use of telehealth which is less expensive than in-person doctor visits and offers the prospect of long-term savings if it helps patients stay on track with care. preventive.
Background: Congress previously authorized the high-deductible plan rule to expire in early 2022, but extended until December 31 in March.
Mandates of the Covid-19 vaccine fell across the country this year and the military could be tested in the Senate this month.
Thirteen Republican senators writes to the leaders of their party on Wednesday to say that they would object to moving forward with the annual defense authorization invoice if they are denied the chance to vote on an amendment to end the military’s mandate.
Background: The armed forces have laid off 8,000 active duty soldiers since Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the military to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in August 2021. Up to 9,000 members of the National Guard are at risk of being released due to vaccination status if warrant remains in place, Deputy Chief of Army National Guard Retention Division told Federal News Network.
Troops forced out represent less than one percent of each branch of service. Over 98% of active duty military personnel are fully immunized.
However, the senators cited the recruiting challenges of the military and the cost of recruiting and training a military member in their letter. The Army missed its recruiting goal of nearly 10,000 soldiers for fiscal year 2022, and the Navy and Air Force spent millions on enlistment bonuses to meet their goals.
And after: Congress has passed a defense authorization bill for 61 consecutive years. He sets Pentagon policy, and appropriations generally accept his advice on how much money to give the military.
If senators get a vote on the vaccine mandate, most Republicans will likely support ending it. And Democrats might be divided. Earlier this month, 12 Democratic senators joined their Republican colleagues in voting for A resolution to end the national Covid-19 emergency.
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