President Obama’s recent executive orders regarding gun reforms are supported by the American Academy of Pediatricians. Because mental health issues have come to the forefront from the recent rash of large scale killings by gun violence, the organization favors the reforms that allow greater access to mental health care as well. “The Academy agrees with the president that to prevent future incidents like the shooting in Newtown there must be stronger gun laws, comprehensive access to mental healthcare, and no restrictions on federal gun violence research and prevention efforts,” AAP President Thomas McInerny, MD, said in a statement.
The President’s mental health proposals include:
- Issuing a presidential memorandum directing the CDC to research the causes and prevention of gun violence
-Clarifying that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not prohibit doctors from asking their patients about guns in their homes
-Releasing a letter to healthcare providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities
-Releasing a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover
-Finalizing regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA health insurance exchanges
-Committing to finalizing mental health parity regulations for private insurance coverage
-Launching a national dialogue led by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on mental health
“If there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we have an obligation to try it,” President Obama said following the release of the executive orders. He called for training for teachers and others to more effectively respond to mental health issues. The President stated that less than half of the children and young adults with a diagnosable mental health condition are treated.