Everyone should have access to mental health care. Not just those who can afford it.
Do you know that the 988 lifeline is for anyone experiencing a mental health emergency?
Monica’s focus on access to care through the lens of financial barriers requires a broad range of initiatives and often a multi-prong approach.
988 is a national number for anyone experiencing a behavioral health emergency. It is the opportunity to deliver on President Kennedy’s vision in 1963, to have a system designed to help people and keep them safe in the community.
Traditionally, commercial insurance pays for acute care (think hospitalizations) and does not adequately cover ongoing care, particularly for folks with chronic conditions. This leads to a long delay in receiving necessary care and when it does happen it’s when someone has moved on to Medicaid.
I’m working to change that and require insurance companies to cover necessary care.
Federal Parity legislation was passed in 2008 and still in 2023, we find that many plans continue to deny coverage for behavioral health benefits. Massachusetts has additional parity legislation, but we struggle with enforcement. The recent Mental Health Omnibus bill (Chapter 177 of the Acts of 2022) provides significant provisions to address the lack of enforcement. But there is still advocacy work to do!
Monica Luke is a mental health advocate focusing on financial barriers to accessing mental health care. Activities include legislative advocacy, parity enforcement and creative approaches to expanding payment models and commercial insurance coverage.
Monica is on the Steering Committee for CORE Mental Health, focused on racial equity and mental health and is a consultant with Massachusetts Association for Mental Health. She co-chairs the Massachusetts Mental Health Coalition. Monica works as a volunteer paralegal with Health Law Advocates supporting parity complaints and denial reversals.