Health Care Reform Won’t Bring You Sanity

by Bill Brenner on March 24, 2010

The author sifts through the noise from left and right wingers over Health Care Reform and comes away with something both sides SHOULD agree on. But they probably won’t.

Mood music for this post: “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” by The Avett Brothers.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E22HprMQN8M&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

When President Obama signed Health Care Reform into law yesterday, some of my liberal friends  on Facebook hailed it as the Second Coming. My conservative friends cried treason.

One conservative co-worker posted from in front of the U.S. Capitol that he could still smell the stench pouring from the building.

If anyone out there is wondering what the law may or may not do for those suffering from mental illness and addiction, I have an opinion. But it has absolutely nothing to do with the fine print of the law.

All I’ll say about the law itself is that it’s not what either side thinks it is. It’ll probably do some good and cause unintended problems. That’s how it is with every law.

Is this the end of bad behavior from insurance companies?

To think so is to be naive.

Is this going to destroy everything families have spent their lives working for because of the cost, as one of my relatives suggested?

Probably not.

Those who know me will tell you I have a passion for history. It’s almost always the topic of whatever book I’m reading or documentary I’m watching. So you’d think I would have a lot to say about how this may compare to other watershed moments in legislative history and, in the end, what the consequences are for those suffering with the mental disorder I’ve lived with.

But I don’t. That’s because my own struggles have revealed a simple lesson:

Nothing the government does or does not do can help those who are out of their minds and slowly killing themselves with addictive behavior.

Government funding for more addiction treatment centers? All well and good, but if you’re locked in your crazy head you’re not going to go to one.

Making it illegal for insurers to deny coverage to someone with pre-existing conditions, including mental illness? Sounds great. But someone bent on self destruction isn’t going to be going to the doctor.  They’ll go to the emergency room when the chest pains and paranoia become too much or they’ve overdosed on something.

When it comes to this kind of affliction, I’m reminded of a line from the Avett Brother’s song “Head Full of Doubt/Life Full of Promise,” which I’ve embedded above —

When nothing is owed, deserved or expected

And you’re life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected

If your loved by someone you’re never rejected.

Decide what to be and go be it.

In the final analysis, government can’t help the sufferer. Only the sufferer can, once he or she hits bottom and decides they’ll  do anything to get well. When that feeling hits, there nothing a law can do to stop it.

Anyone who finds recovery does so because they are loved. Family, friends, fellow sufferers and ultimately God help them through the ups and downs. That support system and willingness of the sufferer to do what’s necessary is far more powerful than anything that will ever result from Health Care Reform.

Don’t get me wrong: There are a lot of medical conditions where treatment WILL be affected by this law.

But mental illness and addiction are different animals from something like heart disease or kidney failure. If you give me a brain scan my OCD isn’t like a growing tumor that’s plain to see. You’ll just see a typical-looking brain.

It’s more like a ghost that occasionally shows itself in a haunted house before vanishing from mortal eyes.

The government can’t go in and flush out the ghost with a warrant or a SWAT team.

My own mental disease was too embedded and personal for outsiders to touch.

Things only got better when I woke up one morning and decided to make a change.

It may sound outrageous to some of you. But it’s my truth.

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