What happened in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14 is too terrifying for my brain to grasp just how terrible what happened was.
One effect that I can (barely) understand: My 10-year-old came home that evening and told me what she wants in her will.
Because she is strong, she is responsible for moving a shelf in her classroom into the “hide the students” position if the school goes into a lockdown.
On the one hand: The party who’s “at fault” in Newtown was the shooter.
On the other hand: Preventing something like that from happening again is the responsibility of every conscious adult and every organization. Fourth graders should not have to spend classroom time learning how to behave during a school lockdown.
Health insurers, disability insurers and the behavioral health and employee assistance program vendors that work with insurers have a great deal of information to offer, and, obviously, plenty of vehicles for connecting patients with mental health care professionals and facilities.
Insurance organizations and behavioral health organizations have an obligation to keep insurance administrative problems from interfering with providers’ efforts to care for patients who seem likely to be a threat to themselves or others.
Making sure that patients with serious mental health problems that could possibly lead to violence is as much about reputation risk management and common decency as it is about complying with the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and state mental health parity laws.
My understanding, from reading press accounts about the Newtown, Conn., case, that the shooter probably had excellent health insurance, and that his parents probably had the assets to pay for excellent care out of their own resources. But, if the situation had been different, and benefit plan limitations were a major concern, what health insurance company executive or plan administrator would want to wake up in the morning and read that a suspect involved in a horrifying, high-profile crime less than an hour from Hartford had been let out of an inpatient facility early because of aggressive plan utilization management moves?