National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Supports Passage of Georgia Senate Bill 139

NAMI Urges Georgia Legislature To Vote For Access To Most Effective

Feb 24 1997

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) urges passage of Georgia Senate Bill 139. The bill would ensure that physicians determine which medications are most appropriate for their patients, rather than government officials with limited knowledge or expertise in a patient’s condition.

Senate Bill 139 would effectively remove current treatment barriers that require physicians to receive prior approval from the Georgia Medicaid agency before the most effective medications can be prescribed. Attempts by the state of Georgia to restrict access to new generation medications have largely been driven by cost concerns. This amounts to bad medicine. Prior approval requirements result in treatment delays or use of older outmoded medications with debilitating side effects.

For people with severe mental illnesses, restricted use of the most effective medicines can result in expensive hospitalizations, increased emergency room visits, and deterioration for people with serious brain disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression.

"With unprecedented research breakthroughs delivering new, more effective medicines for people with severe brain disorders," said NAMI Executive Director Laurie M. Flynn, "it is cruel and short-sighted to limit the use of these long-awaited medicines. People with brain disorders, as people with other disorders such as heart disease or diabetes, deserve the best medical treatment available."

In calling for passage of Senate Bill 139, the Georgia Alliance for the Mentally Ill has joined Georgians for Responsible Medicine, a broad-based coalition of health care provider and consumer groups working to promote responsible, cost-conscious medical care. The coalition includes other health care organization, such as the Older Women’s League, Cure Childhood Cancer and the Diabetes Association of Atlanta.

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons with severe mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), major depression, and anxiety disorders. Based in Arlington, Virginia, NAMI’s membership includes more than 140,000 people with brain disorders and their families, and 1,140 state and local affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada. NAMI’s efforts focus on support to persons with serious brain disorders and to their families; advocacy for nondiscriminatory and equitable federal and state policies; research into the causes, symptoms, and treatments for brain disorders; and education to eliminate the pervasive stigma toward severe mental illnesses.