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Get Candidates On The Record!

Advocates' Candidate Briefing Paper
And NAMI Candidate Questionnaire 2000

For Immediate Release, August 21, 2000
Contact: Chris Marshall

With the completion of the national party conventions, the campaign season now begins in earnest with a little over two months to go until election day. It is very important that NAMI members contact candidates running for local, state and federal offices to get their positions on issues critical to people with severe brain disorders and their families on record. To facilitate this effort, NAMI, in conjunction with several national advocacy organizations, has developed the Advocates' Candidate Briefing Paper (please see a list of the participating organizations below). NAMI has also produced the NAMI Candidate Questionnaire 2000 for candidates running for United States Congress.

The candidate briefing paper contains a fact sheet for policymakers that fully describes the current mental health system. The fact sheet includes data on prevalence rates and affected populations, background information on treatment and services delivery systems, the roles of the private and public sectors, and the effectiveness of available treatments.

The text of the briefing paper provides a detailed report on major mental illness policy issues of concern to people with serious brain disorders and their families. The briefing paper exposes the causes of and the disastrous results from the gap in knowledge about available, effective treatments and the low rates of access to these treatments. The overall discrimination in benefit plans for mental illnesses versus physical illnesses are explained through issue reports on federal and state parity, the effects of limited benefits and patients' rights under managed care, and reduced and limited benefits for mental illnesses in the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Information is included on the trend of slow growth and lack of accountability in state mental health systems that further limits access to care. Housing, employment, disability benefits within the social security system, education and children's issues, and criminalization issues are also discussed in the briefing paper. To obtain a copy of the candidate briefing paper, go to the NAMI Home page and click on "Policy Discussions Related to Election 2000," or click on

The NAMI Candidate Questionnaire 2000 contains questions for candidates for elective office on major mental illness policy issues, most of which are covered in the candidate briefing paper. Together, the briefing paper and the questionnaire serve as a package that can be given to candidates to establish their positions on these issues, as well as educate candidates about important issues for people with serious brain disorders and their families. Once a candidate is elected, the completed questionnaire can also be used as an advocacy tool, either to keep the newly-elected representative true to his or her stated positions or to reveal areas where more advocacy work is needed to educate the representative on certain issues.

The NAMI office is also interested in these questionnaires completed by candidates for federal office. Once a candidate completes the questionnaire, please send a copy by fax (703-524-9094) or by mail to Chris Marshall, federal affairs representative, at the NAMI office:

Chris Marshall
2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22201-3042

Below is a copy of the NAMI Candidate Questionnaire 2000. The Questionnaire can also be obtained on the NAMI website. Go to the NAMI Home page and click on "Policy Discussions Related to Election 2000," or click on or go to the policy page on the NAMI website or click on

IMPORTANT REMINDER: NAMI organizations are reminded that U.S. Internal Revenue Code requirements prohibit non-profit charitable organizations from endorsing candidates for elective office and from participating in election campaigns. As part of our advocacy functions we may ask candidates their views on public policy issues and we may publicize these views. But we cannot, in any way, endorse candidates or political parties.

More background information on the issues raised in the briefing paper and in the questionnaire can be found in the NAMI Where We Stand papers on the policy page of the NAMI website at and in past NAMI E-News posted in the policy updates section.

Organizations participating in the development of and/or endorsing the Advocates' Candidate Briefing Paper are:

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder
International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services
National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems
National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
National Mental Health Association


Support Oppose

___ ___ Expansion of the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 by prohibiting differential day and visit limits and out-of-pocket expenses while covering more individuals and health plans.

___ ___ Strengthening federal rules for hospitals and non-hospital mental health facilities to protect patients from inappropriate non-emergency use of seclusion and restraint. Rules should limit seclusion and restraint authorization to physicians or licensed mental health professionals, require frequent monitoring of patient vital signs, and require public reporting of deaths resulting from use of restraint or seclusion.

___ ___ Legislation that would help prevent parents from having to give up custody of their child in order to access mental health care through the creation of a new Medicaid option to allow families to buy into Medicaid and by creating incentives for more states to apply for home- and community-based waivers for children with mental disorders

___ ___ Managed care reform legislation that includes a fair internal and external appeals process, appropriate access to specialists, out-of-formulary pharmacy access, and legal accountability in the event of physical or mental injury.

___ ___ Amending Medicare to cover existing mental health services at parity, establish national standards for partial hospitalization services and provide new benefits of prescription drugs, case management, PACT (program for assertive community treatment), and psychiatric rehabilitation.

___ ___ Amending Medicaid to encourage states to cover the full array of effective services detailed in the Surgeon Generalís report, particularly PACT (program for assertive community treatment), targeted case management and psychiatric rehabilitation.

___ ___ Encouraging greater accountability in state public mental health systems by requiring an unduplicated count of those in the system and the development of systems to report on services received, delays in access to services, lengths of time services are furnished and costs of care.

___ ___ Promotion of independence through the expansion of federal support for rental vouchers, group homes and other housing for people with mental illness and the expansion of various housing options for individuals who are homeless and have a mental illness.

___ ___ Expansion of vocational rehabilitation to improve services to individuals with severe mental illnesses and creation of a new program under the Rehabilitation Act to fund psychiatric rehabilitation, supported employment and other services to individuals with severe mental illnesses.

___ ___ Amendments to SSI and SSDI disability programs to encourage more adults with severe mental illnesses to join the work force and ensure that consumers do not have to choose between health coverage and a job, gradually reducing SSDI benefits, as occurs with SSI, for those entering the workforce.

___ ___ Maintaining the current requirement, carefully crafted in a bipartisan compromise on the 1997 IDEA reauthorization, that schools investigate whether the actionís of a child with a disability that result in expulsion for bringing a firearm to school are a manifestation of the disability and that schools provide a free and appropriate public education during a period of expulsion.

___ ___ Increased funding for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Program to help address the problem of school violence.

___ ___ Federal appropriations for programs to divert individuals with mental illnesses from jail and to create community mental health services to facilitate the community reintegration of people with mental illnesses who are released from jail or prison.

___ ___ Juvenile justice legislation that includes provisions to meet the needs of youth with mental illnesses while omitting language that harms children with mental disorders and intrudes on the flexibility of the courts.

Support Oppose

___ ___ Removal of administrative barriers to statesí blending of funds from the mental health and substance abuse block grants, to better integrate treatment programs for people with co-occurring mental and addictive disorders.

___ ___ Implementation of federal rules on medical record privacy, permitting states to enact laws to strengthen them.

___ ___ Continuing substantial increases in federal funding of biomedical research and for the National Institute of Mental Health to ensure that there are adequate resources for promising biomedical research into mental illnesses and genetics and that completes the bipartisan goal of doubling the NIH budget within 5 years.

___ ___ Targeting research at the NIMH at all levels on serious mental illnesses to at least 85% of the total budget, accurately reflecting the ongoing burden of these diseases, and link all levels of research so that advances rapidly translate into better treatment and services for individuals with these illnesses.

___ ___ Development and funding for IRB (Institutional Review Board) training programs for consumers and families that adequately prepare for evaluation of research protocols, and enhanced scrutiny and protections for individuals with severe mental illnesses who serve as human subjects in research

___ ___ Increased funding for research specifically targeting children with severe mental illnesses to address the lack of definitive research and the growing prevalence of disabling severe mental illnesses in children.

___ ___ Increase the availability and rights of individuals with severe mental illness to receive treatment with all effective and medically appropriate new generation medications and remove "fail-first" policies that require trials of older, less expensive medications before prescribing newer medications.

___ ___ Increase in research funding for veterans with severe mental illnesses, specifically funding an increase in the proportion of the V A research budget that supports mental illness research, that reflects the proportion of the V A patient census (26%) of vets with mental illness, and full funding of VHAís Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Centers.

Candidate Name:________________________________________________________________

Office Sought: _________________________________________________________________

Signature: ___________________________________________
Date: ____________________

Please fax a copy of this completed questionnaire back to (fill in your information) or mail it to: (fill in your information).

After it has been returned, please be sure to forward the questionnaire to Chris Marshall at the NAMI Office, fax 703-524-9094, or mail:

Chris Marshall


2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300

Arlington, VA 22201-3042