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No More States Expected in 2000; But Utah Achieves Foundation for Future
Arlington, VA - Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci today signed into law the nation's 31st state statute requiring health insurance plans to provide parity of coverage for mental illnesses.
"Governor Cellucci's commitment to parity was absolutely solid throughout legislative efforts to pass the bill," said Laurie Flynn, executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) "His leadership clearly made a difference. We greatly appreciate his contribution and hope it will extend to other reforms in the mental health system in the future."
NAMI also praised State Senators Robert Bernstein and Fred Berry and State Representative Nancy Flavin, who Flynn said, "were instrumental in moving the bill forward to enactment."
"With Massachusetts, New England now stands solidly for parity," Flynn noted. "Every state in the region now has a parity law. The region will serve as a beacon for the rest of the country."
"Massachusetts also represents this year's biggest victory," she said "Last year, it was California. In less than two years, we have expanded parity by twelve states, literally from sea to shining sea."
New Mexico and Kentucky also enacted parity laws in 2000. No more gains are expected in states with legislatures still in session.
Utah also took an important step forward this year by enacting catastrophic mental health coverage-and setting a foundation for parity in the future. "We'll take it one step at a time, but will keep moving forward," said NAMI Utah executive director Vicki Cotrell. "For example, Utah State government is expected to offer parity to state employees in at least two of their health insurance plans beginning in July 2000. That will come on top of the insurance parity already required by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) for its employees."
"The moral leadership of the LDS Church is playing a major role in the reform movement in Utah," Flynn acknowledged. "We greatly appreciate it. We expect that it will continue to make a difference."
"NAMI members in Utah fought a hard legislative battle this year that ended with some hard bargaining," Flynn continued. "So did our members in Massachusetts, Kentucky, New Mexico and other states " Flynn said. "We are proud of all their efforts. They are moving us forward as a nation."
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