Everyone knows someone who struggles with mental illness. NAMI Virginia, Voices for Virginia’s Children, and the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health brought that message to lawmakers Monday as part of their “Make Mental Health Matter!” advocacy day. Over 100 mental health advocates wearing “Mental Health Care Has My Vote” stickers visited their legislators throughout the very successful day.
Advocates raised Medicaid expansion as a top legislative priority for the mental health community – and for good reason. According to NAMI Virginia, it is estimated that an additional 40,000 – 80,000 adults with mental health disorders will be able to receive mental health and other medical services if Virginia expands Medicaid to 138% of the federal poverty level.
Nationally, NAMI estimates that up to “30 percent of currently uninsured adults who would receive health care coverage through state Medicaid expansions are individuals living with mental illness.”
Mira Signer, Executive Director of NAMI Virginia, echoed these points to Senators on the Health and Human Resources Subcommittee Monday afternoon. She made clear that health coverage is necessary for the mentally ill to see doctors and get medications they need to stay healthy.
The bottom line is that Medicaid expansion would profoundly benefit Virginians struggling with mental illness. Lawmakers need to put politics aside and make the right choice today.