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2019 Policy Priorities

NAMI Missouri’s policy priorities for the 2019 legislative session include key objectives and policy positions to support our goal of ensuring that people living with mental illness receive the treatment and support necessary to lead full and satisfying lives as valued members of society. This list is limited to five priority items with a focus on the top three. These priorities are presented with an understanding that NAMI Missouri may also advocate to address funding and other policy issues that come up on an as needed basis.

1.) Protecting access to mental health medications through Medicaid and private insurance.
2.) Enhancing and enforcing behavioral health insurance parity.
3.) Increasing Access to Treatment and Continuity of Care for incarcerated individuals.
4.) Providing stable and adequate Medicaid funding.
5.) Increasing availability of pediatric behavioral healthcare.

  1. Protecting access to mental health medications through Medicaid and private insurance.

The right medications are key to recovery for many individuals with mental health conditions. Choice is important because individuals react differently to different medications. Restricting psychotropic medications shifts costs to the wrong places. Preferred drug lists, prior authorization requirements and other restrictions pose substantial risks for people with serious mental health conditions. Medication failures can lead to emergency room visits, hospitalization, school failure, job loss, incarceration and loss of life. NAMI Missouri supports protective language in statute for psychotropic medications under Medicaid.

  1. Enhance and enforce behavioral health insurance parity.

Current parity legislation requires health plans to provide equivalent coverage for mental health and medical care, but without appropriate enforcement, insurance companies may not comply. According to a 2015 NAMI survey, health insurers deny mental health care at nearly two times the rate of other medical care, often with no explanation. This leaves people unable to get the mental health care they need and are entitled to under their insurance. Also, Missouri’s parity law does not include substance use disorders, including opioids, which have reached an epidemic level. NAMI Missouri supports legislation to enhance enforcement in Missouri to address medical management issues such as definition of medical necessity, reimbursement of mental health professionals, eligibility rules for provider networks, and expansion of the definition of parity to include substance use disorders.

  1. Increase Access to Treatment and Continuity of Care for incarcerated individuals.

Missouri’s incarcerated population faces additional barriers when seeking mental health treatment and supports. For offenders in local and county jail systems, access to mental health care is dependent upon whether a contract has been executed in that jurisdiction and therefore varies greatly from county to county. At all levels of incarceration, Medicaid coverage is terminated upon admission instead of suspended, which means reinstatement is not automatic upon release and may be dependent upon the individual initiating the process. This causes delays in treatment and medication refills and leads to higher recidivism rates.

  1. Provide stable and adequate Medicaid funding.

Medicaid provides vital community-based behavioral health services for low-income individuals living with mental illness and substance use disorders. Medicaid increases stability and recovery, reducing reliance on hospitalization and other public services.  NAMI Missouri opposes certain changes to the current system, including block grants, global waivers and managed care proposals.

  1. Increase availability of pediatric behavioral healthcare.

Although 1 in 5 youth live with a mental health condition, less than half receive needed services. Undiagnosed, untreated, or inadequately treated mental health conditions can affect a youth’s ability to learn, grow, and develop. Because there is a severe shortage of child psychiatrists in Missouri, many children with behavioral health issues are treated by primary care providers who have little or no formal education in this area. NAMI Missouri supports projects like the Child Psychiatry Access Project that improve access to quality pediatric behavioral healthcare for Missouri Children and Adolescents.

 Approved Oct. 13, 2018

NAMI Missouri’s public policy priorities document for the 2019 legislative session is available as a downloadable PDF here.


Save the Date for Partners in Policy in March 2019

If you would like to get involved in advocating at the state level for policies that benefit those with mental illness, we invite you to attend our annual Partners in Policy Training and Advocacy Day events on March 11-12 in Jefferson City.

NAMI Missouri is offering a two-day peer mentor training for individuals living with mental illness who want to become mental health advocates and consumer leaders. Over the course of two days we will help you discover how to best tell your own story to advocate for yourself and for others, then we will travel together to the State Capitol to put your newfound skills to use.

Travel, lodging and meal expenses are covered through grant funding provided by SAMHSA. The training includes NAMI SMARTS for Advocacy materials, which are hands-on advocacy training tools designed to transform passion and experience into effective grassroots advocacy.

This free training is primarily geared toward those with mental illness, but there are a limited number of spots available for family members, friends and allies.

Partners-in-Policy Training & Advocacy Day

Jefferson City – Doubletree by Hilton in Jefferson City
Mon., March 11 – Tues., March 12, 2019
Application Deadline – Feb. 8, 2019

View and download the application here: 2019 Partners in Policy Training Application


Issue Update – Mental health medication restrictions

Thank you to everyone who lent their time and voices to the June 21 committee hearing on the proposal to restrict access to antipsychotic medications through the creation of a Preferred Drug List. Missouri’s mental health advocates sent a clear message and we got results. The Drug Prior Authorization Committee delayed voting and agreed to take time to review the proposals for both of the mental health medication classes listed in the June 21 meeting agenda (antipsychotics and stimulants/ ADHD mediations). NAMI Missouri and the Federation of Behavioral Health Advocates anticipate these issues may come up again at the next quarterly meeting, which is scheduled for September 20.  In the meantime, we plan to continue a campaign of education and open dialogue with Mo Healthnet leaders, staff and policymakers. A summary of news coverage garnered by  recent events is included below.

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Missouri panel scuttles bid to alter access to mental health drugs

KOMU-TV (NBC): Mental health advocates criticize proposed cuts in Medicaid for anti-psychotics

KMIZ-TV (ABC): Committee agrees to delay decision on proposed restrictions on anti-psychotic medications


Issue Update – Mental health medication restrictions

Missouri’s mental health advocacy community is lucky to be represented by so many strong-willed, hard-working and dedicated individuals who share their stories of struggle, recovery and living well with mental illness.

Missouri’s mental health advocacy community is lucky to be represented by so many strong-willed, hard-working and…

Posted by NAMI Missouri on Friday, June 22, 2018

June 22, 2018


Save the Date for Partners in Policy in 2019

If you would like to get involved in advocating at the state level for policies that benefit those with mental illness, we invite you to attend our annual Partners in Policy Training and Advocacy Day events on March 11-12 in Jefferson City.

NAMI Missouri is offering a two-day peer mentor training for individuals living with mental illness who want to become mental health advocates and consumer leaders. Over the course of two days we will help you discover how to best tell your own story to advocate for yourself and for others, then we will travel together to the State Capitol to put your newfound skills to use.

Travel, lodging and meal expenses are covered through grant funding provided by SAMHSA. The training includes NAMI SMARTS for Advocacy materials, which are hands-on advocacy training tools designed to transform passion and experience into effective grassroots advocacy.

This free training is primarily geared toward those with mental illness, but there are a limited number of spots available for family members, friends and allies.

Partners-in-Policy Training & Advocacy Day

Jefferson City – Doubletree by Hilton in Jefferson City
Mon., March 11 – Tues., March 12, 2019
Application Deadline – Feb. 8, 2019


NAMISMARTS for Advocacy:  Filing a Mental Health Parity Violation

Taught by Sita Diehl, former State Policy Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Are you seeking treatment to improve your mental health? Are you interested in treatment for a substance use disorder?  If you or someone you know falls into one of these categories, you should plan to attend an upcoming meeting on fairness in health coverage. Learn what mental health parity is (for mental health and substance use conditions) and how to identify a violation and file a complaint.  Mental health providers are encouraged to attend so that they can help their clients identify and file violations as well.

This free 90-minute presentation will be offered at four locations throughout the state.  Choose from the following options:

St. Louis:  Monday, January 22, 2018:  6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Location: Maryland Heights Community Center, 2300 McKelvey Road, Maryland Heights, MO  63043
Co-hosted by:  NAMI St Louis, Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri, and NCADA
R.S.V.P. online at: https://namismarts-stlouis.eventbrite.com
Download Flyer – St Louis (PDF) | Share the Facebook event page

Jefferson City: Tuesday, January 23, 2018:  Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Location: MO Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare, 221 Metro Blvd., Jefferson City, MO 65101
Co-hosted by:  NAMI Missouri, Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare, and Missouri Recovery Network
R.S.V.P. online at: https://namismarts-jeffersoncity.eventbrite.com
Download Flyer – Jefferson City (PDF) | Share the Facebook event page

Springfield: Tuesday, January 23, 2018:  6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Location: Burrell Behavioral Health Center, 1300 East Bradford Parkway, Building A, Room A, Springfield, MO 65804
Co-hosted by: NAMI Southwest Missouri and Burrell Behavioral Health.
R.S.V.P. online at: https://namismarts-springfield.eventbrite.com
Download Flyer – Springfield (PDF) | Share the Facebook event page

Kansas City: Wednesday, January 24, 2018:  Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Location: First Call, 9091 State Line Road, Kansas City, MO 64114 – 3rd floor PDI room
Co-hosted by: First Call and Mental Health America of the Heartland
R.S.V.P. online at: https://namismarts-kansascity.eventbrite.com
Download Flyer  – Kansas City  (PDF) | Share the Facebook event page

Questions: For questions about these events, please contact Jackie Hudson at jhudson@namistl.org or 314-775-1600.


Partners in Policy: Join Us in Advocacy

If you would like to get involved in advocating at the state level for policies that benefit those with mental illness, we invite you to attend our annual Partners in Policy Training and Advocacy Day events on March 12 -13 in Jefferson City.

NAMI Missouri is offering a two-day peer mentor training for individuals living with mental illness who want to become mental health advocates and consumer leaders. Over the course of two days we will help you discover how to best tell your own story to advocate for yourself and for others, then we will travel together to the State Capitol to put your newfound skills to use.

Travel, lodging and meal expenses are covered through grant funding provided by SAMHSA and the Missouri Foundation for Health. The training includes NAMI SMARTS for Advocacy materials, which are hands-on advocacy training tools designed to transform passion and experience into effective grassroots advocacy.

This free training is primarily geared toward those with mental illness, but there are a limited number of spots available for family members, friends and allies.

Partners-in-Policy Training & Advocacy Day

Jefferson City – Best Western Plus Capital Inn
Mon., March 12 – Tues., March 13, 2018
Application Deadline – Feb. 9, 2018
Attendance is limited to 40 participants

Apply online at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/partners-in-policy-training-tickets-37629724519

Or download a registration form: Partners in Policy Training Application 2018

2018 Legislative priorities

NAMI Missouri is gearing up for the 2018 legislative session, which begins January 3. State budget shortfalls mean an increased risk for cuts to mental health services, and NAMI Missouri will be watching the issues and is ready to fight for those who depend on these critical services.

One of the major policy priorities we hope to see passed this year is a mental health parity bill to enhance current laws by requiring insurance benefits for mental health and substance use conditions to equal coverage for other types of health care. NAMI Missouri is pleased to be partnering with NAMI St. Louis and the Missouri Federation of Behavioral Health Advocates on this important issue.

A coalition of behavioral health advocacy groups will host a series of meetings on this topic across the state Jan. 22-24 in St. Louis, Jefferson City, Springfield and Kansas City.


Why advocate?

A common explanation of advocacy was once given by Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

In facing the stigma and shame that still surrounds mental illness, we are tested by many challenges. Each of us has had to break through boundaries of fear and convention to help our family member. Each of us has felt the discrimination that exists against people who have brain disorders. In our struggle to “stand with” and “stand up for” our loved ones, we are all advocates.

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