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Washington, D.C.-- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org) has called on the U.S. Senate to pass an extension of federal Medicaid assistance to states as part of the pending jobs bill.
NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick called a Senate vote on Wednesday morning against the extension "penny-wise, but pound foolish." He asked Senators to reconsider.
"Every family knows that some choices are penny-wise, but pound-foolish. That is the kind of choice the Senate unfortunately made early Wednesday morning by voting against extension," Fitzpatrick said.
Specifically, the issue involves funding a higher federal Medicaid match rate, known as "FMAP" through the end of 2011.
"Medicaid provides the base of the mental health care system in America. Voting against FMAP means pulling the rug out from state budgets and expanding further the nation's mental health care crisis," Fitzpatrick said.
"FMAP and legislative procedure in Congress may seem obscure and too much like part of a Washington insiders' game, but the consequences of Wednesday morning's vote, if it stands, will deeply hurt individuals and families affected by serious mental illness in towns and cities throughout the country."
"Mental health care in America is already in crisis. Senators voted earlier today to expand the crisis. Mental health care services that have already been devastated by state budget cuts will be devastated even more."
"Every family in America should be alarmed. The Senate vote will hurt our loved ones, people living with mental illness, who are among the most vulnerable people in our communities."
"Mental illness is not a partisan issue. It does not discriminate between Republicans, Democrats or independents. It can strike anyone at anytime. "
"Mental health cuts end up costing more through lost jobs and careers, broken families, more homelessness, higher insurance costs, more welfare and much more expensive costs for hospital emergency rooms, nursing homes, schools, police and courts, jails and prisons."
One in four Americans faces mental health problems in any given year. One in 17 lives with the most disabling, chronic conditions. Many depend on state Medicaid programs to survive.