Episode 119: Debate Night & the Feeling's Right

34 minutes

2/19/20--We're coming at you today sandwiched between two debate nights. The first was yesterday's face-off between U.S. Senate candidates Congressman Joe Kennedy III and incumbent Ed Markey, and tonight's is, of course, the Democratic Primary Debate on the Las Vegas stage, where candidates Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

First, Jennifer and Stephanie recap last night's U.S. Senate debate hosted by WGBH. The two Democrats share most of the progressive views, and as Jenn noted, neither candidate voiced a succinct and definitive reason as to why he stands out in this race.

"Both of these folks have been doing their, sort of, press tour about why Markey thinks he should keep the seat and why Kennedy thinks he should get it, but they didn't, either of them, really seem to have a short, quick, clean answer even after all of this time," Jenn said.

--

Laws mandating that mental health be treated with the same level of seriousness and coverage as physical health have been on the books for 20 years now. But state lawmakers are now calling out a lack of regulation that has kept mental health on the back burner for decades, leaving many people with mental illness struggling. And last week, the Senate passed the Mental Health ABC Act. Steve sat down with Senators Julian Cyr and Cindy Friedman, two of the people responsible for the bill.

Friedman said of the mental health parity laws that were first established 20 years ago, "I believe that the way that we enforced it was very general, and I think that what we saw is that it was just a lot of self-reporting."

With the new legislation, Friedman says, "What we've done is say, 'Okay, we're really serious.'"

Under the new bill, carriers would be responsible for reporting that they comply, and, as Friedman explains, "They have to show us, for instance, what the process is for determining whether a medical surgical benefit is covered versus what the process was for a similar mental health benefit."

Cyr has had his fair share of mental health struggles and said that outpatient mental health therapy has been helpful in both managing his anxiety and "in helping me do things I never dreamed I could."

Cyr himself has not been able to get consistent insurance coverage for his mental health care.

"I'm probably one of the most savvy consumers you can imagine. I'm a 34-year-old State Senator. I know how to navigate bureaucracies and systems," Cyr said. "If I can't do this, imagine how many other people in the Commonwealth can't get the care they need and deserve."

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