Tuesday, March 4, 2003
PR Newswire - March 04, 2003
WASHINGTON, Mar 4, 2003 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) last night called for mental health consumers and providers to redouble their efforts to pass mental health parity legislation in 2003.
"With all of your hard work, we've brought parity to the five-yard line," Kennedy said. "We've got bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress, we've got the President on record, 70% of Americans say they support us. This is the year we'll cross the goal line and it's your efforts that will get us there," he continued. "If you keep the pressure on the President to honor his commitment to pass parity and keep this issue in front of lawmakers, the justice and sensibility of the issue will prevail."
Kennedy was honored last night with the American Psychological Association's (APA) Outstanding Leadership Award for his strong commitment to mental health parity and other mental health issues. The award was presented at APA's annual State Leadership Conference in Washington, DC before an audience of practicing psychologists from the United States and Canada.
"APA applauds Rep. Kennedy's leadership and long-standing support on mental health issues," said Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., APA's executive director for professional practice. "We look forward to working with him this year to increase access to mental health care for millions of Americans by making sure the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act becomes law."
In 2002, Rep. Kennedy teamed with former Rep. Marge Roukema (R-NJ) to introduce the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act. Now known as the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act, the bill is a companion to Senate legislation sponsored by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN), and aims to ensure that mental and physical illnesses are treated in the same way by insurers. Because it was not brought to a vote in 2002, Rep. Kennedy re-introduced the legislation with Rep. Jim Ramstad (R- MN) on February 27.
In addition to parity, Rep. Kennedy has also played major roles in other areas of mental health treatment. He is the sponsor of the Children's Mental Health Service Expansion Act, which would encourage more professionals to become pediatric and adolescent mental health providers, as well as a sponsor of legislation which would increase the availability of mental health services for seniors. In the wake of 9/11, Rep. Kennedy introduced the Extended Disaster Mental Health Services Act to ensure that states are prepared to meet the ongoing mental health needs of victims of terrorism and other disasters.
The American Psychological Association (APA), located in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 155,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its 53 divisions and its affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science and profession, and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare.
SOURCE American Psychological Association
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