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National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Calls On Congress To Act On Patients’ Bill Of Rights Legislation


Contact:
Mary Rappaport 703/524-7600
For Immediate Release
23 Sep 98

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) today lent its support to congressional efforts to make health plans more accountable to the needs of people living with brain disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and severe anxiety disorders.

“The Patients’ Bill of Rights Act of 1998 is an important step forward,” said NAMI President Jackie Shannon at a news conference held by federal lawmakers today on Capitol Hill. “This legislation begins to hold HMOs accountable for treatment provided to persons with severe mental illnesses.” S 1890 establishes new standards for health plans in the areas of access to prescriptions drugs and clinical trials for new treatments for serious brain disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. This legislation, introduced by Senators Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) would establish new standards for internal and external grievance procedures for adverse treatment decisions, and set up state “ombudsman” programs to assist vulnerable populations in dealing with the ever-growing complexity of our nation’s healthcare system.

Shannon added that “NAMI supports these efforts and urges the Congress to move forward on managed care consumer protection legislation in 1998. Without minimum standards for the managed care industry, more and more consumers and families are likely to slip through the cracks of our healthcare system. People with serious brain disorders and their families are especially vulnerable in private sector managed care plans that seek first to satisfy the interests of corporate profits and shareholders. Enforceable standards are critical to ensuring that treatment decisions are made by consumers, family members and their doctors on the basis of medical need, rather than on a health plan’s financial bottom line.”

“NAMI looks forward to continuing our work with Congress to further these objectives. We believe that every American, regardless of their illness, should be guaranteed equal healthcare protections under law,” Shannon said. 

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