This Wednesday there was a press conference in Springfield and Paralee Stewart, one of our Health Care Task Force (HCTF) members, gave a moving speech about how human services has impacted her family. In particular, she spoke about the disparity between privately funded and publicly funded mental health care for her son Daryl. She talked about how his medication options significantly decreased when his private health insurance coverage was lost. She also spoke about lack of care available within the public system. The problem is not quality, but quantity, of mental health services. She went on to say that her son committed suicide as a direct result of not being able to access the treatment he so desperately needed. The first reporter asked his name. His name was Daryl. Another reporter asked the date of his death. Daryl died on election day.
I don't know if any legislatures inside of the capital building heard of Paralee's tragic loss. I don't know if they hear us now when we write letters that are printed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch saying people will die because of human service budget cuts. I don't know if they hear us when we provide written testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee that knowingly removing life-saving programs is criminal negligence. The House Appropriations Committee did hear us today when I gave testimony (thanks to Representative Feigenholtz & her office staff for coordinating a reasonable accommodation with DHS) asking them to come up with better solutions for people dependent on the human service budget. Human services saves lives and money. I know they heard. I'm just wondering if they're listening.