Jan 8, 2008 Goalsfor

CHADD's 2008 Public Policy Agenda

by E. Clarke Ross, DPA

Building a social movement to promote the rights and welfare of persons with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and related disorders includes efforts to influence public policies. During 2008, CHADD will be focused on the following activities:

1. Continued funding for the CDC-funded National Resource Center for AD/HD, a CHADD project. During the last two-year period, the NRC responded to 18,518 people and their 21,952 discrete information requests. Providing science-based information and personal assistance is an ongoing CHADD mission. Eleven percent of these requests were unique to children and adolescents, and seven percent of these requests were unique to adults. Monthly we average 124,627 unique visitors to our Web sites with 844 of these on average being Spanish speakers.

2. Continued advocacy with sister national mental health organizations to enact mental health parity, federal regulation to prevent current discrimination on the basis of mental disorder in health insurance benefit design. Persons with AD/HD pay higher copayments and have fewer treatment visits than persons with other health conditions. This affects both children covered under their parents' health plans and adults who have health insurance.

3. Advocacy when needed at the state level for "open" formularies rather than "closed" formularies. An open formulary allows health plans to pay for all FDA-approved medications at physician and family/consumer decision without arbitrary health plan limits or health plan preferences for one medication in a class over all other medications in the same class.

4. Support for expanded health insurance coverage. Some children with AD/HD and many adults with AD/HD currently do not have health insurance coverage. Once covered, they then typically face discrimination in health benefit design.

5. Advocacy of meaningful family and consumer involvement in all aspects of mental health system implementation, including accountability and performance review, through the reauthorization of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Such efforts will increase the mental health system's responsiveness to and respect for families and adults with AD/HD.

6. Support of legislation to increase the child mental health professional workforce and to include parents and adult consumers as peer mental health workers. The first area would increase access to child mental health services. The second area would increase the mental health system's responsiveness to and respect for families and adults with AD/HD.

7. Continued advocacy for child rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and promotion of positive behavioral supports (PBS) in all school settings. PBS is an evidence-based approach, featured in previous Attention issues, to enhance schoolwide learning environments and discipline for all children, which greatly assists children with special behavioral challenges.

8. Support for informed parental consent if school professionals believe that an assessment of learning and behavioral challenges is necessary when a child is experiencing learning difficulties, and a resulting interdisciplinary treatment program to address such difficulties. Anti-psychiatry groups have been sponsoring legislation to prohibit school personnel from communicating with parents and professionals outside the school to address learning and behavioral difficulties.

Other issues will arise during 2008, but these are ones that we know we will be working on. All eight issues address needs of children, and six of the eight issues address needs of adults with AD/HD. Further details on these and other public policy issues are available from our Web site.

Also during 2008, CHADD president Anne Teeter-Ellison, EdD, will be coming frequently to Washington, DC, to more effectively influence the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) AD/HD research portfolio. This is a new CHADD initiative.

E. Clarke Ross, DPA, is the CEO of CHADD.

Posted January 9, 2008