MENTAL HEALTH: 1,800 Patients Lose Their Doctor

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Hundreds of mental health patients learned this week that their doctors are leaving. There's concern that some of those 1,800 patients may not find a back-up plan.

Psychiatrists in Iowa receive less reimbursement per patient than in almost every other state.

That payment disparity has prompted several psychiatrists at one clinic to take jobs elsewhere.

Their patients say they feel abandoned.

Brenna Williams, Judy Ellenberger and Jeanie Hudson met in group therapy and say spending time together is like group therapy.

“They`ve become my golden girls,” Jeanie remarked.

Jeanie and Brenna are bi-polar.

The day Jeanie’s bi-polar disorder became more complicated was the day she learned her son had been killed in Iraq.

He was the tenth casualty from Iowa.

It was a result of that loss that her psychiatrist diagnosed Jeanie with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I was afraid to leave my home. While I would never kill myself, I wanted God to take me home. I wanted, I just didn`t want to live anymore,” Jeanie said.

Brenna and Judy have been a huge support for Jeanie. But after they got a letter in the mail this week, the women fear that each other is all they have left.

“My doctor said, ‘you know part of his reasoning was that Obamacare has just made too many cutbacks, the reimbursements, only a small portion is getting to the doctors,'” Breanna said.

The letter from Mercy Behavioral Health asks them to “begin making decisions regarding the transition of your care now,” because, “all clinic services... will end August 29th.”

Brenna assumed the Affordable Care Act would make it easier, even cheaper to get the treatment and medication she needs.

“But it`s not, but it`s not doing it. We know another doctor that has said he would not advise younger people to go into medicine because of what the government`s doing,” Breanna said.

The women have anxieties about finding a new doctor to trust, one who understands their history and medications. But mostly, they worry about the 1,800 people who received the letter who may not seek out another doctor.

Along with the letter, patients received a list of options, 20 local care providers, but the women say those psychiatrists are overrun and that it will take months to be seen.

“I interpret that as if I had a physical problem, this wouldn`t have happened, but because I have a psychological problem, they want to cut me loose,” Jeannie said.

Jeanie has a good reason to feel that way because in 1996, Congress passed a law that requires states to treat mental health patients the same as people who have a physical ailment.

But according to a Mercy spokesperson, Iowa lawmakers never got on board with fully implementing that rule.


  • Mitchell

    Well that would most likely be because “most” (Note I said most, not all) really don’t need to be going to mental health. They just do it to get pills. Don’t believe me? Take a look at good ol’ M’town.

    • Annoyed

      That’s got to be the most ignorant statement ever heard yet on this web site, and not a shred of actual proof behind it to back it up! “just look at M’town” indeed!

    • Jeanette

      With mental illness comes stigma- prejudice, Your comments are a prime example. One in four families are affected by mental illness. Don’t think it’s your family? It could be you. I’ll say a prayer for you.

  • Jeanette

    With mental illness comes stigma- prejudice, Mitchell’s comments are a prime example. Hope he’s willing to be more informed over time. After all one in four families are affected by mental illness. Don’t think it’s your family? It could be you.

  • Nancy

    Wonder who this woman’s “doctor” is who blamed Obamacare for the Mercy Franklin mess. Mercy was one of the first advocates who supported the ACA. Shame on this “doctor” who is using the ACA as a political dagger. ACA/ Obamacare is a blessing for so many people. Finally no one will be denied healthcare.

    • Troy Hendrickson

      Mercy is one of those “non-profits” that are in fact very much about profit. I’d love to see how they spend each year marketing tests that are of course highly profitable for Mercy and of dubious value to patients.

    • tom

      MnUh oh, a libtard that is still drinking the oliar sheep kool aid. “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor…”

      Socialist hippie libtards: keep your nose out of my healthcare, my guns, and my paychecks.

    • BaaBwaWawa

      There are many reasons that Obamacare does the opposite of what you’d hoped. But few actually read it to see that it was largely a bunch of lies that had been lining the shelves and drawers of far left politicians for 20+ years. All one has to do is read it and realize, but it is all hidden in the details of 26,000 interconnected pages. Read it and you will see. This is what your representatives did to you and to all of us.

    • Brian

      The mess at the VA should be the dead canary in the cage that should have everyone screaming for Obamacare (previously called Hillarycare) to be repealed in full. The VA mess is what a single payer, government run system is. Go ask a veteran how they feel about it… that is the future of government run healthcare.

  • Joy

    1st of all Mitchell you are just plain ignorant! What fact s do you even have to be running your mouth like this huh? I’m gonna go with NONE. So until you can back that statement up maybe you should keep your stupid a$$ mouth shut. And 2nd, Wiiliam you are even more ignorant then he is! I don’t know what makes you jump to this conclusion? Usually its ignorant people like you and Mitchell that end up in jail/prison.
    For people who need the help (like me) this is a tough loss. I am upset that they are closing but I’m more upset with my doctor. I was just there a week ago and she even had me schedule my next appointment for October 27th! But most of all I am upset with Mercy for not doing SOMETHING about this!!!! If I didn’t totally love my family dr I would change drs and hospitals to Methodist.

    • William Denison

      Joy, the satement I made is based on fact. Maybe not you but many of our nations mentally ill in up caught up in the court system. Most of the time its the only place folks who can’t get or afford help in up for treatment. It starts out with a simple disorderly conduct charge and then snowballs down hill from there. I hope you get feeling better soon.

      • Annoyed

        “Facts” huh? Where’s your ‘facts’? Oh that’s right, you didn’t point to a single one, just a bunch of unsubstantiated bull. Yes there are plenty of people with mental illness in jail. No ‘most people’ with diagnosed mental illness will NOT end up in jail. Even so, there are programs for those that otherwise can’t afford health care, mental or otherwise. The ACA is an attempt to make that available to everyone. It’s not perfect by any means, but it IS a step in the right direction to keep the insurance companies from cherry picking people to boost ‘share holder value’ over the expense of lives and well being.

        You want to actually help rather than being part of the problem? Educate yourself first. Learn the ‘facts’ about mental illness, signs, symptoms, treatments, and coping with them along with family support programs. It’s pretty simple, you can start by looking at mental health sites from NIMH, CDC, WebMD, and several other sites. This ‘everyone knows’ stuff is just bs.

  • Kristy

    I’ve lost mine, as well. However, this has nothing to do with Obama – care. It has more to do with mismanagement, and greed.

  • Ray Samuel Nath

    The problem is not the reimbursement rates, it is the fact that Mercy passes on very little of that rate to the doctor’s themselves. You know, the ones doing the actual work. Mercy stopped being “non-profit” a VERY long time ago.

  • C.R.

    Mental Health Care in Iowa is terrible. This is nothing new. This is not ObamaCare. Take a look around the state there are very few hospitals, psychiatrists, or facilities for the mentally ill. People who do not have a mental illness in their family will never understand so don’t waste your time trying to justify this. It will only hit them when it affects their family and I don’t wish that on anyone.

  • Annoyed

    C.R. Is correct. The mental health system here in Iowa is abysmal. There are few practicing MD, PhDs, and counselors and the ratio of psychiatrists to patients is very high. It’s a 3-4 month wait or longer to see a psychiatrist in Des Moines area for a regular visit. That ratio is only getting worse since Mercy Franklin is being closed as not all the psychiatrists there are moving their practices locally. And, frankly, that doctor complaining about the ACA is spouting non-sense. The ACA is NOT driving out doctors. Hospitals requiring long hours, bad pay, and private practice malpractice insurance are killing doctors. The amount of paperwork required to meet state and federal documentation rules is a mountain by itself, and that doesn’t include what experience has taught practitioners they need for all the malpractice cases they have to fight. If you want to blame something for ‘driving doctors out’ of the medical field it’s NOT the ACA. It’s everyone that has $$$ in their eyes trying for a payout suing for malpractice for the most trivial of slights!

    Ask a doctor what his malpractice premiums are for a year. You likely won’t like what he or she tells you.

    • William Denison

      I get my healthcare from the Veterans Administration . You think I dont know what BS is? You have not a clue.

  • Mitchell

    Look, what I was trying to get at are the people that go, saying there “depressed” or something like it, then walk out of the place with a prescription for a bottle of Adderall or something like it.
    Like I said, “MOST” abuse the system, but not all.

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