Right to Treatment for All-A Rally Cry for Equality

Opening Comments by Teresa Pasquini—Thursday June 19 – West Steps Capitol

Rally for equality for mental illness in MediCal 

My name is Teresa Pasquini. I am a Contra Costa County Mental Health Commissioner and Chair of the Behavioral Healthcare Partnership of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. I am here today as the proud mom of a 31 years old son who has lived heroically with schizoaffective disorder. I am also very proud to be a founding partner of Mental Illness FACTS, Family and Consume True Stories. Welcome and thank you for joining our fight for a right 2 treatment -For ALL! And, “All means All,” as Don Berwick, a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts and the former head of CMS said recently.

We are here today to call for local change and statewide change to end prejudice in funding of public mental health. We will tell the FACTS of the Mental Illness Community through the stories of those who have experienced the discrimination first hand, both the users and providers of the system. We are joined by people from across the state to demand Mental Health Parity-Equal Funding for Mental Illness in a whole health system.   

We are told that healthcare is now a right. We are told that there is justice for all. We are told that the disabled are protected from discrimination. I know for sure that this is untrue. I know for sure that our California healthcare delivery system denies equitable access to treatment for mental illness and that today we are redesigning systems that will maintain the status quo. I refuse to accept the status quo. I refuse to accept that my family does not deserve equal access to medical care.

Systems are designed to get the outcomes that they achieve. I believe we have achieved chaos. We have good people working in a broken, underfunded system. We have good people trying to survive in that system and they are suffering. The outcomes being celebrated by the highly paid key stakeholders are not representative of the many poor and disabled who depend on the public mental health system. This is by design. This is legal. This is unacceptable.

The California legislators and Governor Brown have supported legal discrimination in access to health for ALL diagnosed with a mental illness whether it is mild, moderate or severe. Right 2 Treatment, a campaign of Mental Illness FACTS expects change for all, not for the few, not for the lucky, not for those who are well enough to navigate the chaotic system, not only for the privately insured or for those who are not yet disabled …but for all. 

Mental Illness FACTS refuses to settle for less than equality. We refuse to settle like other state and national stakeholder organizations who are supposed to be fighting for all. They are NOT! They are fighting to protect the status quo. These are the groups being paid to end stigma and discrimination and they are failing without a Right 2 Treatment.

We don’t have pretty green colored ribbon or bumper stickers to hand out today. We don’t have a big screen TV behind us showing slick, Hollywood video production. But we do have a force to be reckoned with behind us and it is building across this state and across the country. That force is a partnership of consumers, families and provider and it is inviting the policy makers and politicians to pay attention to our demand for a Right 2 Treatment before tragedy, jail time, suicide and harm.

Last Sunday the California legislature approved a budget and 18 trailer bills allocating more than $150 billion—but- no funds to extend parity in public mental health. State and federal governments guarantee equal access and quality of treatment for every insured person except those with a diagnosed mental illness.

With the Isla Vista tragedy still fresh in our minds and hearts but fading from front pages and memory, we are here to agree with the victim’s father who said, “ –NOT ONE MORE!” Before Another preventable tragedy that reminds the world of California’s failed mental illness system, we call for Change that Matters NOW…no more waiting. Not another day, another month another year.

Today is the 50th Anniversary of U.S. Senate approval of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; we recall Martin Luther King’s wisdom:

“Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” We will not be denied a Right 2 Treatment for our families, our communities. Waiting is no longer an option!

OUR PURPOSE today is as follows:

  • We will spell out the benefits of parity and the results of denying a right to treatment. We want politicians and public to know that we are lifting the veil of secrecy that covers up conditions in mental health.
  • 
We want the governor to initiate a plan to allocate Prop 63 taxes to expand parity, as anticipated by provisions of the law and the voters, to integrate all MHSA programs into one coherent county system, thus reducing bureaucracies and funding more direct service providers.
  • We are calling upon the governor to place a moratorium on all Prop 63 expenditures that are not treatment focused and are not in demand by consumers, including conferences, unnecessary travel, public relations, brochures, movies, billboards, and “swag” claiming to encourage people to seek treatment — when there is no access to treatment.
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