205 Out Of 206 Republicans Agree: Mental Health Doesn't Matter

205 Out Of 206 Republicans Agree: Mental Health Doesn't Matter

Tag yourself, I'm ADHD, anxiety and depression

So you know how every time there is a mass shooting at a school and we start saying "Sure would be nice if we could have some gun control like all of the normal countries have!," Republicans come right back with "How dare you politicize a tragedy involving guns to try and make such tragedies less common! It's not about guns, it's about mental illness!" like those other countries don't have mental illness, and then we have to explain very few mass shooters actually have diagnosable mental health conditions and people with such conditions are actually more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators of it?

You know how they went around for months and years lamenting the effect lockdowns and remote learning and masking were going to have on children's mental health?

Well! Those same Republicans — the ones in the House, anyway — were provided with an opportunity this week to fund a bill that would provide funding for mental health services at schools across the country. All but one of them decided against that. Literally one Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voted for the Mental Health Matters Act. It still passed, 220 to 205 because Democrats have a majority, but they didn't vote for it.

Introduced by Democratic Rep. Mark DeSaulnier of California, the Mental Health Matters Act "creates various grants to increase the number of school-based mental health services providers, establishes requirements for institutions of higher education concerning students with disabilities, and prohibits arbitration and discretionary clauses in employer-sponsored benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974."

Via The Hill:

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), the sponsor of the bill, said his legislation is needed to address the ripple effect student that mental health concerns are having on schools and educators.

“Educators have been forced to play an outsized role in supporting and responding to students’ mental health needs, leading to increased depression and trauma among educators, their students, and the families and the community. However, our schools do not have the specialized staff necessary to respond to the increased prevalence and complexity of students’ mental health needs,” he said.

“Simply put, the Mental Health Matters Act delivers the resources students, educators, and families need to improve their well-being,” DeSaulnier added.

It's true, schools generally do not have specialized staff to handle these issues. Heck, 60 percent of schools in the US don't even have a full time school nurse. That's not good!

So why were Republicans against this?

Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.), the top Republican on the Education and Labor Committee, said the “country would be better off without” the legislation on the floor.

She specifically took issue with the provision that allows the Labor Department secretary to levy civil monetary penalties on sponsors of plans and administrators of group health plans if they do not fulfill parity requirements regarding mental health.

“Providing [the Department of Labor] with the authority to level civil monetary penalties against plans and increase their risk of litigation will only force plans to drop mental health coverage,” Foxx argued.

Just to be clear, her issue is not with the bill itself, but with it being enforced in any meaningful way. So she would be fine with a bill meant to address mental health, but only so long as it did not inconvenience the health insurance companies whose job it is to provide mental health coverage. Our wonderful, wonderful health insurance companies whose entire business model is built upon taking our money and then finding ways to not cover the things we need it for.

This "parity" is essentially that they can't use the results of genetic testing in order to disqualify someone from coverage for mental health or substance use disorder benefits or charge them more money for their plan, a thing that it seems relatively easy to do.

What this tells us is that not only do Republicans care more about helping health insurance companies than people, but that they don't actually believe any of the things they say about mental health. They know the only reason they cry "mental illness" after mass shootings is because they are trying to protect their guns. Surely, if they really thought that this was the cause of these endless massacres, they'd have put out their own bill by now.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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