While Congress is beginning to feel constituent pressure to take up and pass the "Senator Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act," it is absolutely critical that the Bush Administration know that mental health parity is a high priority for the American public. On April 29, 2002 President Bush appeared at the University of New Mexico with Senator Pete Domenici and pledged to work with Congress to pass parity (that year). The President stated that "We must give all Americans who suffer from mental illness the treatment, and the respect, they deserve."
But despite the record support of 69 Senators, 245 House members and 365 organizations, parity legislation (S. 486 <http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:s.00486:> /H.R. 953 <http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:hr.00953:> ) remains stalled in the committee process. Thus, we cannot let April 29 pass without notice this year, as this is an important opportunity to generate more momentum on parity and we are counting on your grassroots support.
Action: Call/Email the President to encourage him to press Congress to pass the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act.
Message: "I am asking President Bush to urge Congress to make mental health parity legislation [S. 486] a top priority for passage now. Two years have gone by since the President declared his support for full mental health parity. Parity is a fair and affordable solution to insurance discrimination that will save lives and families. Despite a majority in the House and Senate cosponsoring the "Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act," Congress has failed to act. Please press Congress to pass this bill. As November approaches, this issue is extremely important to me as a voter."
Background: The President's 2002 speech at the University of New Mexico is located at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/04/20020429-1.html
A new national poll found that 83% of the American public believes that insurance policies should provide equal or greater coverage for mental illnesses. In addition, 78% believe that placing routine limits on mental health benefits and requiring people to pay more out-of-pocket money for their mental health care is unfair. (Public Opinion Strategies for Coalition for Fairness in Mental Illness Coverage).
The Mental Health Liaison Group has parity fact sheets at: http://www.mhlg.org/page18.html
Coming Soon: Info on the PARITY NOW rally at the U.S. Capitol, Thursday, June 10 at Noon. Plan to attend with your organization's members.
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