America’s Health Care 2018: Your call does not matter

I’m in line with my friend Liz to get a flu shot at the CVS pharmacy counter. The man in front of us is told that the prescription cream he needs is not covered by his insurer.

“Can I pay for it myself?”

“It’s very expensive.”

“How much?”

“$750.”

“For a tube of cream?”

“Yes.”

Singular suggestions for the would-be governor

During this election season The Connecticut Mirror is convening groups of people from around the state to ask their opinions on key campaign issues and their perceptions of the appropriate role of government. The participants in each group share a common circumstance or stage of life: University of Connecticut students, people with children in Bridgeport, and people who qualify as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) in Waterbury.

In this installment, we asked people living with a behavioral health challenge in the New Haven area the following question: If you could make one suggestion to the gubernatorial candidates, what would it be?

Candidates have a responsibility to dispel anti-vax myths

Vaccinations, and especially mandatory vaccination policies, are critical to the health of our society. In the past 20 years, some have questioned the efficacy of vaccinations, skeptical of the plethora of science indicating they are safe, effective and cost-effective. While we all can agree that our state’s mandatory vaccination policies must be based on solid evidence, parents must trust our governmental public health agencies to ensure this is the case. As some rare diseases, such as Mumps or Whooping Cough are making a resurgence in Connecticut, now more than ever, public figures have the responsibility to educate questioning parents about the underlying science and dispel any myths that they may hold.

Advice to a would-be governor: Make healthcare affordable

During this election season The Connecticut Mirror is convening groups of people from around the state to ask their opinions on key campaign issues and their perceptions of the appropriate role of government. The participants in each group share a common circumstance or stage of life. 

In this   installment, we asked a group of people from the Waterbury area, all of whom qualify as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) the following questions: If one of the gubernatorial candidates walked into the room right now, what you would say to him about health care? And What is the most important thing government can do to make a difference in your life, to enhance your community, or to improve the state?

Health care insurance issues loom large in this election

During this election season The Connecticut Mirror is convening groups of people from around the state to ask their opinions on key campaign issues and their perceptions of the appropriate role of government. The participants in each group share a common circumstance or stage of life.  In this   installment, we asked a group of Bridgeport people, all of whom have children, the following questions: What are your primary economic concerns? And if a gubernatorial candidate walked into the room, what would you tell him?

Support for the autism community must be bipartisan

From the late 1980s and early 1990s, awareness about autism increased because of the hard work by families, professionals, and self-advocates. As a result, the community became powerful enough to influence the U.S. Congress. Since those eras, more methods like Affinity Therapy and Lego Therapy has been accepted and old methods like Applied Behavior Analysis improved to help future generations. As someone who is majoring as a disability specialist, I am excited to work for the autism community. Despite this excitement, I have a fear in the back of my mind. It involves the current political climate of the country and the possibility of autism policies becoming more partisan, instead of something legislators in both parties generally support.

What the flu does to your body, and why it makes you feel so awful

Every year, from 5 to 20 percent of the people in the United States will become infected with influenza virus. An average of 200,000 of these people will require hospitalization and up to 50,000 will die. Older folks over the age of 65 are especially susceptible to influenza infection, since the immune system becomes weaker with age. In addition, older folks are also more susceptible to long-term disability following influenza infection, especially if they are hospitalized.

Hartford raises the age for buying tobacco products. It’s a good start.

Congratulations to the Hartford City Council on passing an ordinance that raises the age of sale of tobacco products to 21. The ordinance, which was introduced by Councilman Larry Deutsch, makes Hartford the first city in the State of Connecticut to pass this policy. The ordinance, which includes the purchase of electronic cigarettes, was passed just weeks after an announcement from the State Department of Public Health that the number of high school students using electronic cigarettes doubled in just two years.

Medicaid is essential to Connecticut and the rest of America

Medicaid is an essential part of America’s safety net and is relied on by many millions of working families, children, and people with disabilities in our country. It helps fund hospitals and doctors that deliver health care to people who would otherwise be unable to pay. Without Medicaid, providers would still have to offer these services; they would just have to absorb the cost, hurting the system overall. Medicaid also provides an economic boost to the states, with the federal government covering most of the costs, pumping millions into state economies.

Raise the age limit to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is right to be concerned about the increased number of high school students vaping. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our nation, and e-cigarettes offer youths an opportunity to begin a harmful and lifelong addiction to tobacco, newly fueled by attractive devices and kid-targeted flavors. While we are glad to see that the FDA is being more transparent about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes, it’s clear that we must act quickly and decisively on the state and local levels to protect our children from these products.

Call to candidates: Let’s make Connecticut No. 1 in mental health services again

Connecticut has long been a national leader in how we view and deliver mental health and substance use disorder treatment. We have been at the forefront for many years of legislation known as “parity” that puts these health conditions on equal footing with physical health. Our roots in this field go all the way back to the grandfather of mental health reform, Clifford Beers, who was from New Haven and founded the first-of-its-kind nonprofit that became Mental Health Connecticut in 1908 before founding Mental Health America a year later. In 1913, Beers also founded what is now known as the Clifford Beers Clinic in New Haven. But in recent years, our status as a leader on this issue has begun to slip.

Parents: Vaccinate your sons and daughters against cancer!

Most of the vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and required to enter public school in Connecticut are administered in early childhood and completed by age 4, and then begin again at age 11 (excepting the yearly influenza vaccine). But there is an additional and essential vaccine that was explicitly developed to prevent cancer: the vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV).