Dec172010

Case Study: Access Coalition

Posted by Kassy Perry

Mental Health Makes “Cents”

Before celebrity spokespersons ruled consumer advocates became king. Organizations promoting more funding for treatment and cures for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer were rarely ignored by policymakers. Not so for mental illness. Although one in five was affected, disparate stakeholders and an unorganized constituent base struggled to impact a divisively partisan legislature on what many considered to be a taboo subject. When California’s Medi-Cal program opted not to add a new class of antipsychotic medications to its formulary, saying they were too expensive, mental health advocates became the underdog with a cause. Scientific evidence of medical efficacy was undisputed but policymakers did not recognize the fiscal benefits of the new drugs.

PCG commissioned a study scientifically proving the economic benefits of the new treatments and coalesced previously divergent stakeholders by illustrating their combined ability to reach individual goals with a joint message. Law enforcement leaders, consumer advocates, medical professionals and pharmaceutical manufacturers formed the Access Coalition, providing a credible and commanding voice in delivering a sound fiscal argument to lawmakers. PCG conducted media outreach, featuring compelling consumer success and horror stories, alongside fiscal arguments, to powerfully show how the new medications could change lives and save state resources.

THE RESULTS:

  • Legislation granting unrestricted access to the new “atypical antipsychotic” medications was introduced and passed with bi-partisan support
  • The collaboration developed with the Access Coalition continues, with ongoing issue advocacy for more than 10 years
  • Access Coalition leaders continue to participate in high-level policy discussions, and have become sought-after media sources
  • Coalition activities sparked a movement leading to the eventual passage of a statewide initiative providing access to mental health treatment for millions of Californians

 


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