NAMI Supports Introduction of House Legislation to End Insurance Discrimination

Statement of Jim McNulty National Board President, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)

Mar 21 2001

Arlington, VA - The 220,000 members and 1,200 affiliates of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) are proud to support the new legislation introduced by Representatives Marge Roukema (R-NJ) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), seeking to provide parity and end discrimination in health insurance coverage. Americans with severe mental illnesses and their families are grateful to them for their leadership.

The Roukema-Kennedy bill will strengthen current federal law and finish the work that Congress began five years ago with the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996. It will extend to most Americans the equitable coverage of mental illnesses already available to federal employees and to Members of Congress under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) program. The bill will require health insurance plans to end discriminatory treatment limitations or financial requirements.

The Roukema-Kennedy bill is identical to legislation passed by the Senate that was included as an amendment to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill last year. A majority of House members supported the Senate proposal, but a few House leaders blocked its passage. NAMI praises Representatives Roukema and Kennedy for now launching the proposal anew as separate legislation and urges Members of Congress to make the right decision, the second time around, by passing it.

Parity is affordable and cost-effective. Equitable treatment for mental health must be a national priority. The Senate already has confirmed this through decisive action. NAMI now urges the House to do the same, by acting swiftly on this historic legislation.