NAMI Applauds Vice-President Gore's Mental Health Initiative
Statement by Laurie Flynn, Executive Director National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
May 31 2000
NAMI appreciates Vice-President and Mrs. Gore's long record of support for people with severe mental illnesses and their families. The Vice-President has renewed his commitment today through announcement of a broad initiative for improved mental health care coverage. In doing so, he has begun an important public dialogue about evidence-based research and treatment issues that all candidates for public office need to address this year.
The Vice-President's proposals would represent positive steps forward for the nation. NAMI is pleased to note that bipartisan cooperation already exists on critical mental health issues. Last week, Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) introduced major legislation that would provide new resources for early diagnosis and effective treatment of mental illnesses. Their efforts complement the Vice-President's leadership, and NAMI looks forward to a broad, bipartisan consensus for action.
NAMI particularly appreciates the Vice-President's strong, continued emphasis on the need for equal coverage of mental illnesses by health insurance plans. Since 1991, NAMI has led the grassroots campaign for insurance parity for mental illnesses. Today, 31 states have enacted parity laws-signed by governors of both parties. Bipartisan leadership on this issue is essential at all levels.
The Vice-President emphasis on children in his mental health initiative is also important. Early diagnosis, intervention and treatment of mental illnesses in children are essential to prevention of disability and reducing the nation's youth suicide rate. NAMI strongly supports S. 796, now pending in Congress, which would strengthen the 1996 federal law on parity and offers significant coverage for children. The Vice-President's initiative adds urgency to congressional action on this important issue.