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Action Needed on Family Opportunity Act

Contact the Senate Majority Leader Today

For Immediate Release, September 27, 2001
Contact: Marie Wyffels

In the last few weeks before Congress is scheduled to adjourn, both the House and the Senate are busy not only working on legislation in response to the tragic events of September 11, but also finishing up several other issues dealing with FY 2002 appropriations, education, defense, trade, energy, and health care. Among items not finished is the Family Opportunity Act (FOA), legislation to help children with severe mental illness and their families. Advocates for the Family Opportunity Act-including NAMI, continue to push for action before Congress adjourns this year.

The Family Opportunity Act (S 321 and HR 600) continues to have strong bipartisan support. Currently, there are 71 cosponsors in the Senate and 200 in the House of Representatives. The FOA was introduced in the Senate by Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Kennedy (D-MA) and in the House by Representatives Sessions (R-TX) and Waxman (D-CA). Action is needed now to ensure that Congress does not adjourn without passing this important piece of legislation.

As described in previous NAMI E-News, The Family Opportunity Act of 2001 is intended to restore hope for children with severe mental illnesses and their families. This legislation would allow states to set up Medicaid buy-in programs for children with severe disabilities so that parents would not be forced to relinquish custody of their children or declare bankruptcy in order to get coverage for the treatment their child needs. For more information on S 321 and HR 600, click here.

Action Alert

All NAMI members and advocates are urged to call their members of Congress to urge for passage of the Family Opportunity Act this year. Ask them to call their leadership with the message that The Family Opportunity Act is a bipartisan bill to help children with severe mental illness and their families and must be acted on this year.

Call or fax the Senator and House leadership directly-Let Senator Daschle (D-SD), Senator Lott (R-MS), Representative Hastert (R-IL) and Representative Gephardt (D-MO) know that families with children with severe disabilities, including severe mental illnesses, should not be forced to wait any longer for relief and that the Family Opportunity Act must be passed before they go home.

All members of the House and Senate can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or by going to the policy page of the NAMI web site at and click on "Write to Congress." District and Washington office numbers can be found in your local phone book or through