By Jack Bernard
The Boston Globe, Letters, July 11, 2016
There is only one long-range solution for the problem of access to mental health services: Medicare for all.
In the 1970s, my home state of Georgia had some of the largest state mental hospitals in the nation, and some of the worst care. As director of health planning for Georgia, I advocated for the deinstitutionalization of mental hospitals. Many progressives nationwide did likewise. The thought was to get people out of the inpatient setting and into community settings.
But state funding never came, and it will never come to the extent that it is needed under the current state-driven system. Every time I see a homeless person, many of whom are mentally ill, I see the results of deinstitutionalization.
Under Medicare for all, these concerns would be moot. State legislatures would not have to fund community care, since it would be fully reimbursed. People could get the mental health care they need, which would get many off the street and hopefully treat people who are potentially violent.
Jack Bernard resides in Peachtree City, Ga.