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Letters To Rep. Roukema And Senator
Wellstone On Medicare Parity



Contact: Chris Marshall
703-524-7600



October 17, 2000

The Honorable Paul Wellstone
United States Senate
136 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Wellstone:

On behalf of NAMI's 210,000 members and 1,200 affiliates I am writing to thank you for bringing forward legislation to end discrimination in outpatient treatment services in the Medicare program. As the nation's largest organization representing persons with severe mental illness and their families, we are extremely grateful for your leadership on this important issue.

Perhaps the most glaring shortcoming in the Medicare program is the discriminatory copayment for most outpatient mental illness treatment services. As you know, outpatient psychotherapy services are covered at 50 percent under Medicare, with a 50 percent beneficiary copayment requirement. This is a stark contrast to the 80 percent payment, and 20 percent co-payment for all other outpatient services. In NAMI's view, this is a clear form of discrimination in one of the federal government's most important health care programs - providing coverage to more than 39 million Americans - both seniors and non-elderly people with severe disabilities such as serious mental illnesses. We know that treatment makes a tremendous difference in the lives of persons with mental illness. Your bill removes a significant financial barrier to such necessary care for the Medicare population.

Thank you for once again leading the way in the Congress in bringing an end to discrimination against persons living with severe mental illness.

Sincerely,

Laurie M. Flynn
Executive Director

cc:Joe Zwack, President, NAMI Minnesota

October 17, 2000

The Honorable Marge Roukema
U.S. House of Representatives
2469 Rayburn Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Representative Roukema:

On behalf of NAMI's 210,000 members and 1,200 affiliates I am writing to thank you for your legislation to bring an end to discrimination in outpatient treatment services in the Medicare program (HR 5434). As the nation's largest organization representing persons with severe mental illness and their families, we are extremely grateful for your leadership on this important issue.

Perhaps the most glaring shortcoming in the Medicare program is the discriminatory copayment for most outpatient mental illness treatment services. As you know, outpatient psychotherapy services are covered at 50 percent under Medicare, with a 50 percent beneficiary copayment requirement. This is a stark contrast to the 80 percent payment, and 20 percent co-payment for all other outpatient services. In NAMI's view, this is a clear form of discrimination in one of the federal government's most important health care programs - providing coverage to more than 39 million Americans - both seniors and non-elderly people with severe disabilities such as serious mental illnesses. We know that treatment makes a tremendous difference in the lives of persons with mental illness. HR 5434 removes a significant financial barrier to such necessary care for the Medicare population.

Thank you for once again leading the way in the Congress in bringing an end to discrimination against persons with living with severe mental illness.

Sincerely,

Laurie M. Flynn
Executive Director

cc:Marie Fuchida, NAMI Bergen County
Elaine Fehrenbach, NAMI Warren County
Francine Ferraro, NAMI Sussex County
Annita Zalenski, NAMI Upper Passaic County


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