Politicians admit to mental health struggles

Politicians admit to mental health struggles

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POLITICIANS ADMIT TO MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES: Presidential candidate Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., recently delivered confessions that are rare for members of Congress: They once struggled with and were treated for mental health conditions, he for post-traumatic stress disorder and she for depression.

Discussing such problems out loud is a gamble in politics, and over the years, few others in Congress have been forthcoming, but the chances are high that a number of politicians have faced mental health problems. An estimated 47 million people in the U.S. in any given year struggle with conditions such as anxiety or depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Among the members of Congress who have shared their diagnoses are Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., who started speaking openly about his PTSD after he was elected in 2014, and former Rep. Lynn Rivers, D-Mich., who shared in 1994 that she was successfully being medicated for bipolar disorder.

“There certainly are more than three or four national legislators who have problems, and I’m sure that there are many who suffer silently because they worry about political backlash,” said Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

Politicians who don’t seek treatment for mental illness have struggled to keep up with the demands of their careers. Last year, Democrat Jason Kander had to drop out of the Kansas City mayoral race to focus on treatment for PTSD. Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., resigned from Congress in 2012, saying he needed to focus on treatment for bipolar disorder, in addition to the federal investigation into his misuse of campaign money, for which he later pleaded guilty. The late Rep. Karen McCarthy, D-Mo., sought treatment in 2003 after she fell down in a House office building while drunk, and her family revealed after she died that she had bipolar disorder that had gone undiagnosed.

Psychiatrists interviewed for my latest magazine story agreed that most people with mental health conditions who get treatment can do well but noted that often people don’t seek help because they’re worried about how they’ll be perceived. As a result, their condition can get worse.

For politicians, there’s always the risk that seeing a therapist or taking an antidepressant will become a liability if it gets out. Just this week, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., told Axios he had suffered from depression after returning from a deployment in Afghanistan.

Read more from my latest magazine story.

Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at dailyonhealthcare@washingtonexaminer.com. If someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to receive it regularly, you can subscribe here.

MAJORITY OF DEMOCRATS DON’T UNDERSTAND MEDICARE FOR ALL: POLL: While 87% of Democratic voters want Democratic presidential candidates to discuss healthcare, more than half are unaware that private insurance would no longer be an option under the Medicare-for-all bills introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows 71% of Democrats believe they would still pay deductibles and co-pays under a national health plan, and 65% think they could keep their private plans. On the other hand, 42% of Republican voters think that they would be able to keep private plans.

Separately, the poll indicates that Obamacare’s favorability has dipped below half over the past two years: Only 46% like it as-is. However, almost 80% of Democrats are in favor of the current law.

Another poll bolsters KFF findings: A separate Navigator poll released Monday shows even more Democrats — 73% — wrongly believe that buying a government plan would be optional under Medicare-for-all proposals, and that they would retain the option of getting private plans. However, less than half of all voters favor getting rid of all private insurance, the bedrock of a national health plan.

HEALTHCARE AND TECH INDUSTRIES TEAM UP IN FIGHT AGAINST ROBOCALLS: Health systems are receiving barrages of robocalls, often from people speaking Mandarin who demand that they give up their personal information or else face deportation. Telecom companies are making an effort to stop threatening robocalls. Dave Summitt, chief information security officer for the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, said in an appearance before the Energy and Commerce Committee that, in a span of 90 days, the institute received 6,600 calls from people posing as Moffitt or Department of Justice phone numbers.

PFIZER AGREES TO PAY $11.4 BILLION FOR OTHER PHARMA COMPANY’S CANCER DRUGS: Drug manufacturer Pfizer has agreed to pay Array BioPharma $11.4 billion for their skin cancer treatments, which could be used to treat colon and rectal cancers. Array BioPharma’s treatments for skin cancers are being tested to treat colorectal tumors, and Pfizer wants in. Andy Schmeltz, president of Pfizer Oncology, said using the skin cancer drugs to treat colorectal cancer may be a “first and best-in-class combination that could have blockbuster revenue potential,” that will “further augment our existing leading positions in both breast cancer and prostate cancer.”

NEBRASKA SCHOOL DISTRICT WILL TEST FOR NICOTINE TO FIGHT VAPING: Fairbury Public Schools in southeast Nebraska will begin testing students for nicotine as a requirement for participating in extracurricular activities like sports, speechmaking, and marching band. “It has been something that has been on our mind for a while because we have seen a drastic increase in students that are vaping,” Stephen Grizzle, the district’s superintendent, said in an interview. “Smoking in general, but vaping seems to be the craze right now.”

The Rundown

Kaiser Health News Texas is latest state to attack surprise medical bills

The Hill Trump’s health care focus puts GOP on edge

The New York Times Vaccine injury claims are few and far between

The Charlotte Observer Columbia nursing home among 6 in SC with ‘persistent record of poor care’

The Washington Post McConnell: I don’t know why Jon Stewart is ‘all bent out of shape’ on 9/11 victims fund


TUESDAY | June 18

House and Senate in session.

8:30 a.m.1301 K Street NW. Washington Post Live event on “Chasing Cancer.” Details.

9:30 a.m. 430 Dirksen. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on lowering healthcare costs. Details.

1-6 p.m. Milken Institute School of Public Health. 950 New Hampshire Avenue NW. Event on “Reproductive Health in Crisis: What Workforce Strategies are Needed?” Details.


June 19-21. Nashville. AHIP Institute and Expo. Agenda.

7:45 a.m. Hyatt Regency. 400 New Jersey Ave. NW. Politico event on “America’s Sky-High Drug Prices & the Role of Biosimilars.” Details.

10 a.m. 2123 Rayburn. House Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on “Protecting Title X and Safeguarding Quality Family Planning Care.” Details.

THURSDAY | June 20

10:30 a.m. 2322 Rayburn. Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee hearing on “Medicaid Funding in the U.S. Territories.” Details.

2 p.m. 2154 Rayburn. House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing on “Ensuring Quality Healthcare for Our Veterans.” Details.

SATURDAY | June 22

Columbia, S.C. Planned Parenthood Action Fund to host a forum on reproductive rights for the Democratic primary.

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