09-29-2022  4:39 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

NORTHWEST NEWS

Tiny Oregon Town Hosts 1st Wind-Solar-Battery 'Hybrid' Plant

A renewable energy plant being commissioned in Oregon combines solar power, wind power and massive batteries to store the energy generated there is the first utility-scale plant of its kind in North America.

State Senator Weighs in on Lottery Issues

Sen. James Manning of Eugene voices concerns about the Lottery’s special treatment of two of its managers

Oregon Gubernatorial Candidates Clash Over Guns, Abortion

Three candidates clashed over gun control, abortions and the homeless crisis, just six weeks before election day.

Black United Fund Launches Emerging Entrepreneur Program

Pilot program will support promising small business owner ready to take the next step.

NEWS BRIEFS

Council Approves Dunn’s Proposal to Expand Hate Crime Reporting System

The King County Council approved legislation that will create a new community-based Stop Hate Hotline and online portal, expanding...

Expiring Protections: 10-Day Notices of Nonpayment of Rent And "Safe Harbor" Protections

Effective October 1, a Landlord will be able to resume use of a 72-hour notice or 144-hour notice when issuing a termination notice...

11 Area Post Offices to Host Hiring Events

Over 100 Northwest USPS Hosting Job Fairs ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Champions Oregon Business and Sets Sights on Strengthening Key Industries

Rep. Bynum invited leaders and experts to discuss ways the state can champion businesses of all sizes, expand broadband, bolster the...

PPS Renames Headquarters

The central office will be named after Matthew Prophet, Portland Public School's first Black Superintendent from 1982-1992,...

1st civil trial over Portland cops’ use of force begins

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The first civil suit alleging Portland police used excessive violence against a 2020 racial justice demonstrator opened Tuesday before a jury in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Civil rights attorneys are paying close attention because the outcome could answer...

Seattle Children’s emergency room sees unprecedented demand

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Children’s Hospital is seeing “unprecedented demand” in its emergency department, resulting in longer wait times and providers seeing some patients in the waiting room, officials said this week. Seattle Children’s Emergency Medicine medical director...

Auburn loses 2nd center, Tate Johnson, to injury

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn has lost its second center of the season with Tate Johnson slated for surgery on his left elbow. Tigers coach Bryan Harsin said Monday that Johnson is scheduled for surgery on the elbow Thursday and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks but could be out for the...

LSU survives Daniels' injury scare in romp over New Mexico

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The LSU defense held New Mexico to 88 total yards and the Tigers survived an injury scare to starting quarterback Jayden Daniels in a 38-0 victory Saturday night at Tiger Stadium. “Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a habit,” LSU...

OPINION

No Room for Black Folk

A recent interview with Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and an associate professor, reveals the inability of certain white Americans to share the benefits of our society ...

The Cruelty of Exploiting Vulnerable People for Political Advantage

There is always a new low for Trump Republicans. And that is pretty frightening. ...

The Military to American Youth: You Belong to Me

The U.S. military needs more than just money in its annual budget. It needs access to America’s young people as well — their wallets, their bodies, and their minds. ...

Financial Fairness at Risk With Proposed TD Bank-First Horizon Merger

As banks grow larger through mergers and focus on growing online and mobile services, serious concerns emerge on how fair and how accessible banking will be to traditionally underserved Black and Latino communities. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Trial of elderly Rwanda genocide suspect opens at UN court

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A frail 87-year-old Rwandan accused of encouraging and bankrolling the country's 1994 genocide refused to attend the opening of his trial at a United Nations tribunal Thursday, nearly three decades after the 100-day massacre left 800,000 dead. Félicien...

Biden, Harris to attend Jackson's Supreme Court investiture

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses will attend the ceremonial investiture for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the Supreme Court’s newest member and its first Black female justice, a White House official said. The appearance of...

1st civil trial over Portland cops’ use of force begins

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The first civil suit alleging Portland police used excessive violence against a 2020 racial justice demonstrator opened Tuesday before a jury in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Civil rights attorneys are paying close attention because the outcome could answer...

ENTERTAINMENT

Billy Eichner made a great rom-com. Now its audiences' turn.

NEW YORK (AP) — At the Toronto International Film Festival world premiere of “Bros,” Billy Eichner exhorted the crowd to keep cheering. “Keep it going!” implored Eichner. “I want a longer ovation than ‘The Whale! ’” In the whistle-stop lead-up to the...

Model fearing Myanmar military heads to asylum in Canada

BANGKOK (AP) — A fashion model from Myanmar who feared being arrested by the country's military government if she was forced back home from exile has arrived in Canada, which she says has granted her asylum. Thaw Nandar Aung, also known as Han Lay, left on a flight from Bangkok’s...

Review: Keith Jarrett at his peak on ‘Bordeaux Concert’

“Bordeaux Concert,” Keith Jarrett (ECM Records) When Keith Jarrett gently strikes the final note on the opening piece of “Bordeaux Concert,” 15 seconds pass before concertgoers begin to applaud, taking time to savor what they just heard. New music from our...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Chinese tycoon Richard Liu faces civil trial in alleged rape

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Chinese billionaire, one of the richest people in the world, is heading to trial in...

In sacred Brazil dunes, critics see evangelical encroachment

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — The vast blanket of white sand overlooking Salvador is a place to escape rumbling...

Friend or foe? Japan-China ties complicated after 50 years

TOKYO (AP) — Friend or foe? Or both? On the streets of Tokyo and Beijing, the ties between Japan and China...

4th leak reported on Nord Stream pipelines in Baltic Sea

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A fourth leak on the Nord Stream pipelines has been reported off southern Sweden, the Swedish...

Ukrainian activist among winners of ‘Alternative Nobel’

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Right Livelihood Award — known as the “Alternative Nobel” — was awarded Thursday to...

Pakistani court acquits ex-PM's daughter in corruption case

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A court in Pakistan's capital city on Thursday acquitted the daughter of former Prime Minister...

Viji Sundaram New America Media

Health Care ProtestSAN DIEGO, Calif. – Like most severely mentally ill patients, 23-year-old Daniel Padilla doesn't see himself as that.

The insurance companies that cover him – Medi-Cal (California's name for Medicaid, the federal-state-funded insurance for low-income and disabled people) and United Health Insurance -- don't see the schizophrenia he was diagnosed with at age 19, as deserving the same benefits as someone with a medical condition.

His father, Benito, must go after the insurers month after month to get them to pay Padilla's psychiatrist to keep his schizophrenia under control.

"The insurers approve three visits and then they put you through hell," asserted San Diego-based psychiatrist Dr. Rodrigo A. Muñoz, who has been treating Padilla all along.

"Insurers discriminate against people who are mentally ill," Muñoz said.

But that's all going to change soon. When the historic Affordable Care Act fully unrolls on Jan. 1, 2014, it will require insurers to offer mental health care benefits equal to physical health benefits. In other words, a disorder in the brain will be treated no differently than one in the kidney, Muñoz said.

Not just people with mental disorders, but those with substance use disorders have encountered penny-pinching annual and lifetime caps on coverage, higher deductibles, or simply no coverage at all.

Federal Parity Law

The blatantly discriminatory practices by health insurance companies prompted Congress in 2008 to pass the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), which mandated that psychiatric illness be covered just the same as other medical illnesses. It required insurers to offer the same annual and lifetime dollar limits for mental health care as for medical and surgical care.

But the law applies only to larger employers – those with 50 or more workers – that offered a health plan that covered mental health and substance abuse. Smaller employers, as well as people who buy their own insurance, are excluded from the benefits of the law.

"Smaller employers have resisted changing the law, saying they will go broke" if they had to include mental health coverage in their health care plans, Muñoz pointed out.

The ACA has extended the MHPAEA provisions to state insurance exchanges, known as Covered California in this state. This would require policies purchased by smaller employers and individuals through the exchange, as well as those purchased outside of it, to be MHPAEA-compliant.

Had the MHPAEA mandated universal psychiatric benefits when it was created, insurers like Padilla's would not have been able to discriminate between the treatment of psychiatric and non-psychiatric medical illnesses, he said.

Only a Fraction of the Mentally Ill Get Treatment

Dr. Clayton Chau, who practices psychiatry in Orange County, Calif., said that because of the discrimination factor, poor access to care and inadequate insurance coverage, only a fraction of those with mental illness get treatment.

A report by the Surgeon General indicates that one in four Americans has a diagnosable mental illness at any given time. National and international studies show that 1 percent of the general population has schizophrenia, an illness that is treatable, though not curable. Surveys, including those done by the National Institutes of Mental Health, show that only about 50 percent of Americans seek psychiatric treatment.

According to Randall Hagar, director of government relations with the California Psychiatric Association, a state mental health parity bill signed by Gov. Davis in 2000 required insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of a range of mental illnesses under "the same terms and conditions applied to other medical conditions." The intent of the law was to eliminate the disparity in co-pays and higher deductibles.

In the opinion of many advocates, Hagar observed, the law is "routinely violated by plans and insurers, and enforcement is generally weak."

That prompted Sen. Jim Beall, D-Campbell, to try five times to give more teeth to federal and state mental health parity laws. Beall's first four bills were vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, and his most recent bill (SB22) didn't even make it out of committee.

What the Health Care Law Will Do

Under the ACA, aka Obamacare, health insurers are forbidden from excluding people with pre-existing illness from medical coverage. By definition, Americans with a mental illness have a pre-existing disorder, and up until now, private health insurers have denied with impunity coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

California has added a mental health component to its expanded Medi-Cal program, under ACA, to ensure that its Medi-Cal population with mental disabilities receives more comprehensive mental health benefits, starting Jan. 1, 2014.

The current mental health component of Medi-Cal "is limited in terms of the number of providers and the number of services" it offers, Chau said.

Older people with mental illness will also benefit from the ACA because the law will close the notorious "donut hole," allowing the Medicare population to not have a break in medication.

Padilla, who's currently working for his GED, has been able to stay on his father's insurance because of his age. A provision in the ACA allows children under 26 to remain on a parent's insurance plan.

Muñoz is relieved that the ACA will help patients like Padilla access the care they so badly need. The removal of lifetime caps by insurance companies will enable mentally ill patients to access care before turning to suicidal thoughts, becoming violent or ending up homeless, he said.

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events