November 16, 2001
Congress To Recess Without Passing Parity
Letters and Phone Calls are Vital
PARITY HANGS IN THE BALANCE
The House and Senate plan to begin their 10 day Thanksgiving recess. Between November 17 and November 27, most Senators and Representatives will be in their state and district offices.
As members of Congress head home for the holiday still left unresolved in a House-Senate conference is the Domenici-Wellstone mental illness parity amendment to the FY 2002 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill (HR 3061).
THREAT TO PARITY
When lawmakers return to Washington, Congressional leaders likely will push Appropriation's conferees to wrap up this bill which funds the federal departments of Labor-Health and Human Services and Education (including the Centers for Disease Control)
Anticipating the rush to adjourn after this recess, opponents of parity are already working hard to prevent House acceptance of the Senate's parity amendment. Since the 1996 parity law expired October 1, 2001 and has unlikely renewal prospects during next year's election season, this may be the LAST REAL CHANCE to bring an end to discrimination and ensure equitable insurance coverage for treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and other serious brain disorders.
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED
NAMI advocates must contact their House member and senators and urge them to support the Domenici-Wellstone mental illness parity amendment to the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill. NAMI advocates should use any and all techniques to contact members of Congress over the next week, including:
- Direct meetings
- Phone calls
- Newspaper editorials
- Radio call-in programs
- Enlist the support of community leaders
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS MUST HEAR NAMI'S MESSAGE
- Mental Illnesses are real
- Treatment works (when it is available and accessible)
- There is no medical or economic reason for health insurance plans to discriminate between mental illness and other illnesses.
- Go to: www.congress.org or the Blue Pages in your local phone book to locate the local state and district offices of your members of Congress.
- Go to: www.nami.org/policy for advocacy strategies and materials to support the Domenici-Wellstone amendment.
- NAMI affiliate leaders in particular should distribute and follow the "6 steps that every NAMI advocate can take to ensure victory for parity in 2001" found on the NAMI website.
- NAMI advocates should also urge their House member to sign the Roukema-Kennedy "Dear Colleague" letter supporting parity. (The letter urges House leaders to keep the Domenici-Wellstone mental illness parity amendment in the final version of HR 3061. Nearly 100 House members have already agreed to sign the letter, more signatures are needed in order to make the letter as effective as possible)
NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL NAMI ADVOCATES TO SEIZE THIS HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY TO END INSURANCE DISCRIMINATION ONCE AND FOR ALL!