National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Applauds Indiana Legislature for Ending

Insurance Discrimination in Coverage for Severe Mental Illness

Contact: Mary G. Rappaport (703) 312-7886
Melissa Wajnert (703) 312-7886
April 16, 1997

Arlington, VA Indiana has joined the ranks of an elite group of states intolerant of insurance discrimination against people with severe mental illnesses, a move lauded by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). Yesterday, by a vote of 50 to 0 in the state Senate and a previous vote of 76 to 22 in the state House, Indiana passed legislation (HB1400) calling for equal or "parity" coverage of severe mental illness to that of other physical illnesses.

This act, which will take effect July 1, 1997, now goes to Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon for signature into law.

"Indiana has broken new ground in building a secure future for people who at one time thought there was no future," said Laurie M. Flynn, NAMI executive director. "State leaders have validated in legislation what researchers have proven in science -- mental illnesses are physical disorders of the brain and treatment works."

As part of its national Campaign to End Discrimination, NAMI is working in more than 30 states to end unfair insurance practices, an effort that was spurred by unprecedented federal law passed last year to provide health insurance parity for serious mental illnesses.

"This is a proud moment in the history of the state of Indiana," said Jane Novak, spokesperson for the Indiana Alliance for the Mentally Ill. "This achievement would not have been possible without the leadership of the bill’s sponsors." Representatives Susan Crosby (D- 44th) and Gloria Goeglein (R-84th) and Senator Steven R. Johnson (R-21st) sponsored the bill.

Indiana joins eight states that have taken legislative action against insurance discrimination (Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Texas, North Carolina, and Rhode Island).

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons with severe mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depression), major depression, and anxiety disorders. NAMI’s membership includes more than 140,000 people with brain disorders and their families, and 1,140 state and local affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada. NAMI’s efforts focus on support to persons with serious brain disorders and to their families; advocacy for nondiscriminatory and equitable federal and state policies; research into the causes, symptoms, and treatments for brain disorders; and education to eliminate the pervasive stigma toward severe mental illnesses.

"Open Your Mind, Mental Illnesses Are Brain Disorders."

NAMI’s Campaign to End Discrimination is a five-year effort to end discrimination against

people with severe mental illnesses in insurance, housing, and employment.