NAMI Honors The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints

Moral Leadership On Mental Health Parity Cited

Jul 01 1999

Chicago, IL - With over 2,500 persons in attendance, the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) today presented the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) with its Campaign to End Discrimination's "Religious Advocacy Award" for requiring parity for mental illnesses in the health insurance provided to church employees and their families.

Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, president of the North America Central Area Presidency and member of the Church's First Quorum of the Seventy, received the award on behalf of the church at NAMI's 20th Anniversary Convention. Thirty-four members from Utah attended the ceremony, led by NAMI State President Bruce Smith of Salt Lake City.

On January 1, 1999, the LDS Church began extending equal health insurance coverage for mental illness to the approximately 48,000 people enrolled in the managed care programs of the Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators (DMBA), which handles the insurance and retirement needs of the LDS Church.

"The LDS Church has provided significant moral leadership in the growing national movement for parity," said NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn. "Many religious institutions in the United States support legislation for parity, but the LDS Church is one of the first-if not the only church-in America to make an institutional commitment to parity. It has set a moral example that today shines as a beacon of faith, compassion and justice. Parity represents an investment in human dignity and potential in the best of American religious traditions."

During the White House Conference on Mental Health on June 7th, the federal government similarly announced that it would require mental health parity under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP). Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) also has introduced legislation in Congress to extend parity to the private sector for the most severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression.