In these times of weathering a severe mental health crisis in the United States in general, and Minnesota in particular, no one, not even the health authorities, is trying to play their part.
Instead, they are colluding with the state legislators deliberately to increase the suffering of mental health patients by curbing mental health services.
The pursuit of profit at the expense of people’s mental health in Minnesota is driving a doctrine that is endangering the lives of mental health patients.
When mental health patients are denied preferable treatment, they commit suicide to get rid of their suffering.
When my son was battling mental illness, little did I know that the Minnesota legislature was colluding with health care organizations to ramp up their systematic policy against mental health patients in Minnesota.
Let’s see how the insurance companies, Minnesota health department, and Minnesota legislature are colluding to make fools out of people who need emergency rooms and intensive residential treatment.
Hospital Licensed Bed Moratorium Law: My Son Became Victim of One such Senseless Law
The Hospital Licensed Bed Moratorium Law of Minnesota is death to patients in the literal sense. Simply put, hospitals cannot increase the number of beds due to legislative negligence.
According to the official wording of MN Statutes 144.55, the law prohibits “any erection, building, alteration, reconstruction, modernization, improvement, extension, lease or other acquisition by or on behalf of a hospital that increases bed capacity of a hospital.”
If hospitals want to add more beds, they have to seek approval from the Minnesota legislature and the Minnesota Department of Health.
This is not only an issue for psychiatric patients. In fact, all patients have been suffering from this menace due to the conspiracies of the state government.
This law is a threat to inpatient psychiatric treatment, as the mental health care facilities’ capacity would not be increased this way in the long term.
While the legislature holds the authority to grant exemptions to the moratorium, the legislature is just one side of the same coin.
To hide their inefficiency, legislators always try to play smart, saying that there is no need for hospitals or beds because otherwise, their performance in the state could be challenged.
In 2008, Prairie St. John wanted to open a 144-bed psychiatric facility in Woodbury, Minnesota. However, because of the law, they had to seek exemption from the legislature, but they were denied an opportunity to help mental health patients.
The collusion between the Minnesota Health Department and the state legislature barred Minnesota residents from having a 144-bed psychiatric facility in their state.
It could have saved hundreds of lives, but the ignorance of the legislators made the matter worse. Who knew that the establishment of this hospital in 2008 would have saved the life of my son in 2013?
The only argument against granting the proposal by the Minnesota Health Department was the cost of the facility. According to them, “Proposal for a 144 – bed psychiatrist facility would add three to four times as many beds as the state needs, will cost the state about $2 million a year in higher medical fees and would add financial strain to other hospitals.”
The legislature also sided with the health department, saying, “Building a new psychiatric hospital is in no interest of the state.”
The statements expose the intent behind the lack of psychiatric beds in Minnesota. The legislature is simply not ready to increase even a single bed in the state.
To add salt to the injury, two St. Paul hospitals are all set to close by 2021, and the state of Minnesota will lose almost 105 inpatient psychiatric beds in the process.
This will further strain the already stressed resources of the state. With this, the suicide rate could go up exponentially, and the suffering of mental health patients and their families will be increased.
United Health Care: The Frontline Conspirator to Increase Suffering of Mental Health Patients
United Health Care, with headquarters in Minnesota, tried to implement its profit-driven policy in 34 states. According to the policy, it would access emergency room claims to see if visits were indeed a medical emergency or not.
This is the direct assault on mental health patients. Amid the rising criticism, although United Health Care has delayed the implementation, for the time being, it remains a matter of time before this policy would be a reality after the pandemic.
This step will limit the treatment services available to mentally ill patients.
Furthermore, it could bar the deserving patients from obtaining benefits from the insurance, resulting in the lingering of their treatment.
Many of them cannot afford expensive treatment without insurance, so they would have no available options.
When we see the suicide rates of Minnesota, the pattern is evident. According to the Minnesota Department of Health,
The Suicide rate in Minnesota has steadily increased since 2000. The age-adjusted suicide rate rose from 8.9 per 100,000 population in 2000 to 13.1 per 100,000 population in 2015. The emergency department visit rate for self-inflicted violence has also increased, jumping 15 percent in one year with 15,258 in 2015 compared to 13,293 in 2014
(Minnesota Department of Health)
The data demonstrate that the suicide rate is increasing at an unprecedented rate, and any more negligence would push the situation towards more severity.
The plan of United Health Care is bound to catalyze the suicide rate. When they would snatch the right of treatment from the patients, the suffering of the patients would increase, resulting in even higher suicide rates.
Democrats and Republicans: All are Equally Involved in Mental Health Ignorance
The need of the hour is the legislative change. This is the time that Minnesota should take mental health issues seriously so that lives could be saved at any cost.
Minnesota is famous for its racial injustice, so Blacks come at the bottom of the hierarchy even in these straining resources. Not only this, most of the Blacks cannot afford expensive hospitalization. So, this lack of beds directly impacts Black people’s lives, increasing their mental health trauma and physical health regimes.
The Republican-led State Senate needs to act on this on an immediate basis. Any negligence in this regard will bring misery to the already suffering patients.
Minnesota Democrats have also been inefficient in raising their voice loudly. Ignoring the mental health issues is a combined effort from both Democrats and Republicans in the state.
Perhaps this is due to the fact that they are never encouraged by their political bosses present in the federal legislature. The lack of mental health regulation is the thing on which everyone from federal legislators to the state legislators is ignorant, and nobody is ready to take the first step.
The delaying of the Mental Health Justice Act 2021 is a classic example in this regard. Similarly, the poor construction of the outpatient civil commitment also tells the same story.
While Minnesota state legislators may say that they would improve the outpatient civil commitment by not approving the new hospitals or beds, the poorly executed outpatient treatment condition is also evident from my son’s case.
A bit of proactiveness in either outpatient civil commitment, making the beds available, or the early passing of some law like the Mental Health Act of 2021 would have saved my son’s life. But recommending something to the legislators is like casting pearls before swine.
Perhaps the legislators either don’t know, or they collude with the health department deliberately that.
“Minnesota has a higher rate of hospitalizations and length of stay for patients with serious mental illness compared to the U.S. average.
(Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics)
Now, when I look back at all the relevant laws and the delayed legislations, I can surely say that timely action by the legislators could have saved my son. But now, as I have already faced the worst, I am on a mission to help other parents, so they don’t have to face what I encountered.