PMD Alliance is excited to join the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council, also known as UPAC. UPAC is a national advocacy coalition dedicated to representing the PD community with a unified voice to better shape Parkinson’s policy priorities. Here are two bills the Council is supporting that we encourage you to lend your voice to!!
Increased access to mental health care
About half of people living with Parkinson’s report experiencing depression, anxiety and/or other mental health issues. Research has proven that therapy and counseling help treat depression and anxiety, allowing people to continue to live independently, contribute to their family life, and better manage other symptoms.
However, because 90% of people with Parkinson’s receive health care coverage through Medicare and licensed mental health counseling services are not covered through Medicare, an enormous portion of people living with PD do not have access to mental health coverage. The Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 286/H.R. 945) adds coverage for licensed mental health counselor services under Medicare. Please ask your congressperson to support the bill so that people with Parkinson’s have increased access to much-needed mental health resources.
Banning paraquat, a Parkinson’s-causing herbicide
More than 30 countries around the world ban the use of paraquat, a toxic pesticide. Research shows that paraquat greatly increases the risk of a person developing Parkinson’s disease. Recurring exposure to paraquat can damage brain cells and lead to heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure and lung scarring and ingesting large quantities leads to likely death, with no remedy or cure. Paraquat is dangerous to those who work in food and agriculture, and also to everyone who eats food treated with it, as there can be paraquat residue on fruits, vegetables and the soil.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) has introduced legislation (H.R. 3817) that will ban paraquat, and she and her co-sponsors need other members of the House of Representatives to join them in sponsoring the bill. Please ask your Representative to support eliminating paraquat and to protect people from developing Parkinson’s disease.
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Need more reasons to lend your voice? Research has shown that political engagement is good for the brain, and linked to higher reported levels of well being and engagement.
PMD Alliance is excited to join UPAC and become a stronger advocate for those with Parkinson’s across the country. Also, we will practice what we preach by attending the 2019 Parkinson’s Policy Forum on September 9-10 in Washington, DC. Stay tuned for updates next month!