National Alliance on Mental Illness
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October 2, 2002

Sponsors Make Final Push for Agreement on Parity Legislation

As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), House and Senate sponsors of federal parity legislation are pressing President Bush and Congressional leaders to come to an agreement on a parity bill that can pass before Congress's expected adjournment next week. Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN) are working with the White House and House leaders to resolve the remaining issues over requirements for health plans to cover mental illnesses on the same terms and conditions as all other diseases.

NAMI Grassroots Action Needed

As part of this effort, NAMI advocates are strongly urged to contact President Bush and their members of Congress to encourage an agreement on parity that can pass this year. Thank President Bush for his support for legislation to end insurance discrimination. Urge your member of Congress not to adjourn without finishing work on this important legislation to end insurance discrimination against people with mental illness and their families. Remind all members of Congress and the White House of the President's call for Congress to pass a parity bill in 2002. Time is of the essence as Congress moves toward its expected adjournment next week.

Please email President Bush or call the White House Comment Line 202-456-1414.

All members of Congress can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or online through

In contacting the President and your members of Congress remind them that:

  • untreated mental illness costs American businesses, government and families at least $113 billion annually in lost productivity and additional social costs;
  • mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and sever anxiety disorders are real illnesses;
  • we have the knowledge and tools to help people to recover right now. Treatment for mental illness works, if you can get it - treatment efficacy rates for the most severe mental illnesses exceed those for heart disease and diabetes;
  • there is simply no scientific or medical justification for insurance coverage of mental illness treatment to be on different terms and conditions than other diseases;
  • discriminatory insurance coverage of mental illness bankrupts families and places a tremendous burden on taxpayers through suicide, homelessness and inappropriate "criminalization" of mental illness; and
  • 34 states have enacted parity laws similar to HR 4066/S 543, but even these laws offer no protection for workers and their families that receive coverage through self-insured ERISA plans.

No more broken promises. Congress needs to act now.