National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Virginia Moves Toward Victory Over Insurance Discrimination

NAMI Urges House of Delegates to Adopt Insurance Parity Bill

Bob Carolla 703-516-7963
Val Marsh 804-225-8264
For Immediate Release
22 Feb 99

ARLINGTON, VA-The Virginia General Assembly is moving toward adoption of legislation to end health insurance discrimination for people with severe mental illnesses, with a vote in the House of Delegates expected Tuesday.

On Monday, February 22, 1999, the House Committee on Appropriations was scheduled to meet at 10:00 a.m. and expected to recommend legislation, which the Senate already has passed unanimously.

House passage will have state and national significance, putting Virginia one step away from joining 19 other states that have passed similar legislation, including Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

"We applaud the Virginia Senate for having moved the bill this far, and strongly urge the House of Delegates to carry it forward," said Laurie Flynn, executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). "This is an historic opportunity for Virginia to help lead the nation, by becoming the 20th of the 50 states to end discrimination that for too long has denied people with severe mental illnesses adequate health insurance coverage."

"Mental illnesses are biological brain disorders," Flynn noted. "And treatment works. Legislators who support the bill are validating what medical science already has proven." Serious mental illnesses include major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia.

"Once the Assembly has approved the bill, we urge Governor James Gilmore to move swiftly to sign it into law. He will do good for the people of Virginia and light a beacon for the rest of the country," Flynn said.