Letter: Liz Patton

From: Liz Patton


As a clinician whose task it has been to access mental health and addiction treatment for people in crisis, I have seen the effects of the Medicaid expansion in person on a daily basis.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, uninsured or under-insured people in crisis had very few options for mental health or addiction treatment in Indiana. The Affordable Care Act brought a sea of change to the field and has offered hope and healing to people who could otherwise end up in dire straits or even lose their lives.

We as a society can no longer afford to ignore the ravages of addiction on the person, the family, the community and our nation. We have within our power the opportunity to make real, lasting change for the better. Medicaid expansion makes sense because it enables us to lead people to treatment. Spending those funds on treatment means we will be spending much less on emergency care, law enforcement, incarceration, child protection, HIV and hepatitis treatment, and loss of contribution to society, among other needs.

Mental health care access is being positively affected by the ACA Medicaid expansion. People who before had no way to get counseling or medication are now able to find stability and safety because they have access to help that is desperately needed. Again, this strengthens families and our community, and contributes to our community’s safety. When people feel well, they are more productive and stable citizens and their children are healthier and do better in school.

Medicaid block grant funding is problematic because it pits needs of different citizens against each other. The burden of cost is shifted from the federal to the state level, where tough decisions have to be made. Medicaid funds pay for half of all long-term services and supports for the elderly and disabled across the country. The state has to determine who is “first in line” so that others have to wait or get nothing. In some states there are long waiting lists for nursing home care. Due to the aging population, loss of jobs with retirement benefits for many, and increasing mental health needs and drug problems in our country, block grants would put those most in need at higher risk for not being able to get help.

I believe we can tackle these needs with the cooperation and dedication of our citizens and representatives. Please let your senators and representative know that you support Medicaid expansion so that all of us can benefit from a happier and healthier citizenry.