Art Levine

Art Levine is a contributing editor of The Washington Monthly and a former Health Policy Fellow with the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI). He is the author of PPI's 2005 report, “Parity-Plus: A Third Way Approach to Fix America's Mental Health System,” and is currently working on a book on mental-health issues. He also blogs at The Huffington Post. Follow at ArtL7 on Twitter.

Recent Articles

The Sequester: A Mental-Health Crisis

Flickr/ranchocanyon
Flickr/ranchocanyon I f you've been reading The New York Times , The Washington Post and hearing statements by Republicans denouncing the sequester "hype," you may have been lulled into thinking that it won't be so bad after all. The country has apparently reacted with a "collective yawn" to the $85 billion across-the-board cuts that began last Friday, the Associated Press proclaims. "The sword of Damocles turns out to be made of Styrofoam," the Times reports. But the sword feels much sharper for families, advocates, and local officials who rely on government funding to treat and care for those with mental illness. Starting April 1 , cuts to the Mental Health Block Grant program alone will deprive over 373,000 seriously mentally ill and seriously emotional disturbed children of services, according to a White House fact sheet . Experts also say that nearly 9,000 homeless people with serious mental illness won't receive the outreach and social-work assistance offered by PATH , a vital...

Follow the Money

How shortsighted funding and reimbursement warps mental-health care in America

It may seem arcane, but the reimbursement and spending priorities of government health agencies can literally have life and death consequences for people with mental illness. Just ask the family of Carolyn Howard, who was bludgeoned to death in 2005 on her front lawn by her adult son Keith, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. The tragedy unfolded after the Florida Medicaid program abruptly dropped Zyprexa, the expensive antipsychotic medication upon which Keith Howard had depended, from its formulary of approved drugs. As a result, Howard was hospitalized twice in the two months before the killing, having heard voices telling him his mother conspired with murderers like Lee Harvey Oswald. An investigation by The Orlando Sentinel last year found that Howard was prescribed substitute medications but that they didn't help. Today, compelling federally funded studies question, in general, the effectiveness of such "second generation" antipsychotic medications as Zyprexa; these drugs,...

The Republican War on Voting

Using the Department of Justice, friendly governors, and its usual propaganda outlets, the GOP has propagated the myth of voter fraud to purge the rolls of non-Republicans.

One week before the close of voter registration in Kentucky last fall, in an election that culminated with the victory of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear, Johanna Sharrard, a fresh-faced 26-year-old national organizer for the low-income advocacy group ACORN , gathered her canvassers in a run-down Louisville office and told them some good news: "We got 396 people yesterday -- that's really great!" Then she added what could have seemed a jarringly discordant note: "We know it's getting harder to reach people with the cards in this area. It's really important that you guys are not slipping up and turning to filling out your own applications or other fraudulent activity. Just yesterday we had to let another person go because she did not follow protocols." Sharrard continued sternly, "What's important is that we get 15,000 new voters. We're not out there to get 10,000 new voters and 5,000 false applications." Indeed, the voter registration waged by ACORN (the Association...

Medifraud Amok

Heard about the company that resold the drugs that came back in the mail? That's apparently just a normal day in the life of our under-regulated drug industry.

We're hearing those phrases again," declared Law and Order district attorney, former Republican senator, and presidential candidate Fred Thompson in a July 26 ABC podcast. "National health care, universal health care, socialized medicine. We're being told that government bureaucrats can take over our entire medical industry -- which, by the way, is the best and most complex in the world -- and make it better." Ah yes, the bureaucrats. As if the problem with our current medical system is too much oversight by meddling government agents. In truth, while conservatives rail against government-run health care, our limited versions of that -- Medicaid and Medicare -- have been exploited as boondoggles by the same drug companies that have, since 2000, spent nearly $1 billion on federal and state lobbying drives as well as campaign donations given overwhelmingly to Republicans, according to the Center for Public Integrity. In return, the corporate drug dealers have gotten their money's worth...

Behind the FISA Flop

Why wasn't there greater mobilization against the warrantless surveillance bill passed earlier this month? A look at what Congressional Democrats, advocacy groups, and the netroots were doing in the run-up to the bill's passage.

Monday's resignation announcement by discredited Attorney General Alberto Gonzales threw into even sharper relief the capitulation in early August by the Democratic-led Congress on one of Fredo's signature issues, the warrantless surveillance of Americans. The fallout over the passage of the bill that expands the president's surveillance powers has prompted a new rift between progressives and the Democratic leadership. Blunt ACLU attack ads launched last week charge that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid acted like "sheep." The disenchantment with Congressional Democrats continues although Pelosi stated right after the administration's revised Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) bill passed the House that she'd seek major changes to the " unacceptable " legislation when Congress returns in September. She and other leaders have also tried to mollify critics by saying it was only a six-month extension. But the Democrats' weakness on this issue...

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