I support Barack Obama for president, because his positions on mental health care and the pharmaceutical industry make the most sense for the American people.
Positions on Mental Health Care
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) sent questionnaires to the candidates about their views on mental health issues. You can view the responses of both Obama and McCain on the NAMI website.
What is most striking immediately is that only Obama bothered to answer the questionnaire, providing specific responses to each of 24 questions crucial to mental health care in America.
McCain, on the other hand, issued a four paragraph generic position statement with few specifics. His mental health plan revolves around controlling costs and calling on Americans to take more “personal responsibility.” For example, he states:
“I have stressed the central role of personal responsibility in leading to lower health care costs. Personal fitness and better lifestyles, especially reduction in addictions of all types – food, narcotics, or cigarettes – can yield dramatic improvements in the cost of chronic illness and high cost medical care. We can do a better job of treating addictions, but we also have an obligation to do a better job of teaching our children the benefits of good lifestyles and the perils of addictive activities.”
Who can argue against personal responsibility? Unfortunately, treating mental illness is a wee bit more complicated than telling patients to "just say no."
Obama has tangibly demonstrated support of mental health treatment by:
--Strongly supporting mental health parity legislation. While both Obama and McCain voted for the federal Mental Health Parity Act, only Obama co-sponsored the legislation. In addition, he actively supported mental health parity in Illinois as a state senator.
--Calling for mental health screening of veterans to treat PTSD and prevent suicide, two growing problems among vets. Ironically for a war hero, McCain has voted repeatedly against increased funding for veteran’s outpatient services, and specifically voted against a provision that would have allocated $500 million for VA mental health services.
Positions on the Pharmaceutical Industry
While McCain has the reputation of being “tough” on drug companies (see this pharma marketing network forum), in reality, Obama supports proposals that would more substantially bring the costs of drugs down.
Both candidates support allowing re-importation of medications from Canada, and both support eliminating loopholes in generic drug law that allow companies to pay generic manufacturers to delay the release of cheaper drugs by 6 months.
But only Obama wants to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with companies, which was the crucial element missing from Medicate Part D. McCain has taken no position on this issue.
To summarize, Barack Obama has demonstrated greater leadership on measures ensuring that psychiatric patients receive the care they deserve, and will fight to decrease the inflated costs of prescription medications.