National Alliance on Mental Illness
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For Immediate Release, 2 Nov 99
Contact: Chris Marshall
House and Senate leaders have appointed members to a conference committee that will be charged with reconciling differences between the rival House and Senate versions of the Work Incentives Improvement Act (WIIA). As the NAMI E-News reported earlier (October 20, Volume 00-51) the House passed its version of WIIA (HR 1180) on October 19 by an overwhelming majority 412-9. The Senate passed its version of WIIA (S 331) on June 16. With the naming of the conference committee, the congressional work on WIIA enters its final stage where members will be engaged in critical negotiations with the White House to ensure that the final bill is acceptable to the President. Members of the conference committee will also be going through the difficult process of finding "cost offsets" to pay for Medicare and Medicaid eligibility expansions that are critically important for people with disabilities (including severe mental illnesses) seeking to enter the workforce. Conferees will also be faced with the task of ironing out differences over the proposed "ticket to independence" program and important protections for beneficiaries subject to continuing disability reviews (CDRs).
NAMI members and advocates are encouraged to contact members of the House-Senate conference committee (see list below) and urge them to finish their work on the Work Incentives Improvement Act before final adjournment for the year (congressional leaders hope to adjourn for 1999 before mid-November). Urge the conferees to fully fund the health care expansions in the Senate bill (S 331). If your senators or House members are not on the conference committee, call them and urge them to personally contact conferees and push for quick action on WIIA.
NAMI advocates are also urged to contact the White House to urge the President to work with the congressional leaders to find "cost offsets" for the Medicare and Medicaid provisions that all sides can agree to. The White House comment line can be reached by calling 202-456-1414. The President can be reached by e-mail at http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/Mail/html/Mail_President.html
Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX)
Rep. Bill Archer (R-TX)
Rep. Tom Bliley (R-VA)
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI)
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)
Senator William V. Roth Jr. (R-DE)
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY)