|National Alliance on Mental Illness
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| For Immediate Release
| March 29, 2003
DON'T LOSE THE WAR AT HOME
NAMI Calls on Senate-House Conferees to Hold the Line
On Medicaid Funding for States
Arlington, VA-The National Board of Directors of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) today called unanimously on Congress to oppose any cuts in Medicaid in the budget resolution currently before them.
Medicaid is "the most critical safety net program" for children and adults who suffer from serious mental illnesses. The NAMI board underscored the urgency of the issue by individually signing the resolution, to be delivered to Members of Congress. Seventy-nine Republican and Democratic Senators already are on record opposing a House proposal to cut Medicaid by $92 billion over the next ten years.
"As American troops close in on Baghdad, another critical battle is being fought on Capitol Hill.
The lives of millions of Americans hang in the balance," said NAMI board president Jim McNulty. "We must not lose the war at home."
The Board resolution warned that cuts in Medicaid will have "negative national economic consequences," including greater burdens on systems and programs that provide care to the poor and the nation's most vulnerable citizens.
"This is the wrong time to sound retreat," McNulty said. "People who struggle with mental illnesses have been neglected or abandoned too many times in the past. Now is not the time to further erode the foundation of the current system."
States budget crises, the worst in decades, already are forcing state governments to restrict access to effective medications, putting lives at risk and otherwise compromising treatment and recovery.
The final report and recommendations of the President's Commission on Mental Health, expected in the next 30 days, will address the already existing crisis in the nation's fragmented mental healthcare system. "The Commission recommendations are not supposed to address the need for new revenue, but it makes no sense at all to tear down the foundation at a time when the President already has invested in blueprints for renovation," McNulty said.
NAMI board members who signed the resolution include: McNulty (Rhode Island), Sylvia Arias (Puerto Rico), Moe Armstrong (Massachusetts), Jim Dailey (Kentucky), Edward Foulks (Louisiana), Carla Jacobs (California), Steve Miller (Iowa), Darlene Prettyman (California), Frederick Sandoval (New Mexico), Eileen Silber (North Carolina), Betsy Smith (Connecticut), Margaret Stout (Iowa), Roscoe Swann, Jr. (Maryland), Suzanne Vogel Scibilia (Pennsylvania), Gloria Walker (Ohio) and Patricia Warburg Cliff (New York).
Read the Resolution
With more than 220,000 members and 1200 state and local affiliates, NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with severe mental illnesses. Funding sources for NAMI programs include hundreds of state and local governments and foundations; tens of thousands of individual donors; and a growing number of corporations. NAMI's greatest asset, however, is its volunteers-who donate an estimated $135 million worth of their time each year to education, support and advocacy. NAMI does not endorse any specific medication or treatment.