February 5, 2007
Congress may soon vote on federal "parity" legislation, which would strengthen protection against discrimination between "physical" and "mental" illnesses in employer-paid health insurance plans.
More than 40 states have passed their own parity laws, but they do not apply to many people because of conflicting federal laws. New legislation would establish a minimum floor to cover every person, in all states, if their employers provide health insurance.
With NAMI's help, U.S. Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Jim Ranstad (R-MN) have been holding hearings across America to raise awareness about the need for a stronger federal parity law. The time to act is now.
In 2002, President Bush pledged to sign a new parity law, working with Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and other Congressional leaders, including Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). "We must give all Americans who suffer from mental illness the treatment, and the respect, they deserve,” Bush declared. As governor of Texas, he signed that state's law.
Mental illness doesn't discriminate. It hits Democrats and Republicans alike.
NAMI will continue to provide updates on this issue, so keep checking our Web site to see the status of federal parity.