HBO’s John Oliver discussed America’s broken mental healthcare system, how it is dangerously unable to provide care to those who ask for it, and the response from the Biden administration.
Two plus into a pandemic and the mental health crisis that came with it, and the stories that John Oliver told were troubling and frightening. There are not enough mental health care professionals with more people leaving the profession than are coming in.
Patients are stuck waiting in hospitals for weeks and months on end because mental health facilities have no beds available. Insurance companies maintain outdated lists of providers and patients who can’t get a call back to schedule an appointment and payouts from insurance companies that are so low that many therapists won’t take insurance.
Oliver concluded by saying:
First, this is clearly an absurd way to operate a healthcare system, and for the umpteenth time, I would argue that single-payer healthcare is the way to go….In the absence of that, we need to both recruit more mental health care professionals and make sure that insurers cover them properly.
Now on the first point, the Biden administration to its credit announced a plan back in March that would provide $100 billion in mandatory funding over ten years to completely transform our current system, which includes investing $700 million to cover training, to scholarships, and loan repayments for those committed to working in underserved areas, but obviously, that’s only half the battle. On the insurance company side, we badly need to be strengthening and enforcing those mental health parity laws at the state and at the federal level.
Biden’s plan is something that needs to happen today. The pandemic exposed many of the cracks in American systems by putting the healthcare system under intense and unprecedented strain. The nation has a chance to learn from the pandemic and build a system that can have the capacity to provide care to those who need it.
Mental healthcare can be a life-and-death situation for those who need help. The media discusses only the negative often when it comes to the Biden administration, but the difference between Trump or Biden being president is that Donald Trump would never think about or plan to fix the nation’s mental healthcare system.
John Oliver was right. The laws need to be tightened, and that’s up to Congress, but it is time to take America’s broken mental healthcare system seriously and demand a change.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association