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Archive for the ‘mental illness’ Category

The one silver lining of the Wall Street bailout legislation that was just passed and signed into law by the President is the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. It has been a long journey that has finally come to an end. 

 

 

“This bill is a major achievement, one I know my dad would be proud of,” said David Wellstone. “This bill will go a long way to ease the pain and suffering of those with mental illness and addiction, and I am proud to have been part of this effort. It’s a great day.” David Wellstone is the co-founder of Wellstone Action, an organization that has been mobilizing support for the bill.

 

Read the Wellstone Action announcement here.

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC 

 

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My last post was about the Wellstone mental health legislation and it’s passage in the House. Now it seems to be stalled and is in danger of not becoming law unless the Senate moves it foward.

David Wellstone and Wellstone Action sent out this urgent appeal:

 

 

Our last hope is in the Senate.

 

Washington is very busy today, working to address our current economic crisis.  We have to pull out all the stops to make sure they get the message – the Wellstone bill must be passed into law before they adjourn.
 

 

As I told you late last week, while both houses of Congress passed mental health and addiction parity legislation, procedural differences mean that it won’t get sent to the President’s desk unless the Senate acts now.  To read more, click here.

Call your Senators NOW: 1-866-parity4

Message:

Congress must not go home without final passage of the Wellstone bill. We’ve come too far to fail now.  Send a bill to the President’s desk and get it signed into law!

Thanks,

 

 

David Wellstone and the team at Wellstone Action!

 

Make the call!

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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It is about damn time!

The House passed the Wellstone parity legislation 376 to 47. A Bluestem Prairie has nice coverage of the story. As Ollie Ox pointed out, the only member of the Minnesota delegation to vote against this important piece of legislation was Rep. Michelle Bachman. Maybe if there was an amendment allowing drilling for oil  in ANWR she could have supported it.

It has been a long while since I featured a Big Dooker of The Week and I really have other things I could be doing right now, but Rep. Bachmann has outdone herself this week with this vote and her attempts to link drilling for oil in ANWR to the Wall Street bailout legislation.

Congratulations Michelle, you are our Big Dooker of The Week.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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An email from David Wellstone alerts us to the possibility of a compromise and final vote on H.R. 1424,  the ”Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2008”. From the Wellstone Action website is this description of the bill:

The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act is legislation that would end the practice of insurance companies discriminating against people suffering from mental illness. Sponsored by Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Wellstone’s friend Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN), the bill would compel insurance companies to treat mental illness the same as physical illness, given the overwhelming scientific evidence that mental illness is a disease every bit as real and serious as physical illness. This practice is often referred to as “mental health parity.”

David Wellstone had this to say:

…the final touches are being put on a compromise between the House and Senate, and we believe that a bill could go to the President’s desk next week.  But, if it doesn’t happen then, it’s likely we’d have to start all over again with the new Congress next year.

The Senate and House have passed different versions of the legislation and have been working on settling their differences since the House passed its version in March of this year. 1st District Congressman Tim Walz was a co-sponsor and supporter of this legislation. Representatives John Kline (R-MN2) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN6) were both in the NAY column, continuing their tradition of voting against the best interests of their constituents.

A favorable editorial in the July 5th Minneapolis StarTribune praises the Wellstone family and Congressman Jim Ramstad for their efforts on the bill and concludes their remarks with this:

Many business groups have long opposed coverage parity, saying costs could drive up premiums substantially. But one estimate by the Congressional Budget Office concluded the impact would be relatively small: a 0.4 percent premium increase for group health insurance. In addition, the federal employees’ health plan has had a parity policy since 2001; one study found no significant cost increase as a result. Part of the explanation likely lies in the value of treating mental conditions early and avoiding expensive complications and hospitalization later.

Many states already have laws in place that provide some protection for patients struggling with mental illness or addiction. Minnesota has one of the strongest. A federal law would not preempt those laws. What it would do is make sure no one falls through the cracks. Mental disorders are one of the most devastating diagnoses families can face. Their health insurers should work with them –not against them — at this difficult time.

A final call-in day to members of congress will is scheduled for Wednesday, July 9. Stay tuned for details on the call-in!

David Wellstone testifies before Congress in March of this year:

 

 

 

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Legislation also known as “mental health parity” is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, March 5. From the Wellstone Action website is this description: 

The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act is legislation that would end the practice of insurance companies discriminating against people suffering from mental illness.  Sponsored by Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Wellstone’s friend Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN), the bill would compel insurance companies to treat mental illness the same as physical illness, given the overwhelming scientific evidence that mental illness is a disease every bit as real and serious as physical illness.  This practice is often referred to as “mental health parity.”

In an report filed by the AP  the late Senator’s son had this to say:

I cannot emphasize enough how historic this vote will be,” said Wellstone’s son, David Wellstone, in a letter to activists. “For five years, I have heard promise after promise that Congress will pass mental health parity legislation in my father’s honor.”

and from the same AP report is this from Representative Ramstad:

We’ve waited 12 long years, and we’re finally getting a vote in the House to pass landmark legislation ending discrimination against people who need treatment for mental illness and chemical addiction,” Ramstad said in a statement released by his office.

Representative Tim Walz(D), from the 1st congressional district of Minnesota and my congressman, is one of 273 cosponsors of H.R. 1424. Is your congressperson on the list?

Contact congress and say thank you to those who are supporting this legislation and encourage those who are not to reconsider.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

UPDATE March 4 2008: Received this email from Wellstone Action:

Call today!  I’m making my 9th trip out to Washington because millions of American lives, and a critical part of my father’s legacy, are at stake.  After all the years and all the promises, we need to pass mental health and addiction fairness legislation out of the House. 

I know it’s been a long campaign, but we need you to call one more time.

Call your Member of Congress TODAY and ask them to vote YES on the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (HR 1424).

Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121ask to be connected to your Representative

Let us know you called by sending us an email at info@wellstone.org

Thank you.  I’ll be in Washington today and tomorrow having last-minute face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and watching the action on the floor on Wednesday.  Your calls will be critical grassroots backup to my visits!

Sincerely,

End Update

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Thanks to MinnesotaCentral for the link to new information on PTSD. The number of reported cases has increased by 70 per cent. Read the USA Today article here.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Remember watching Bob Hope on the old ‘tube’ when he did his USO specials? He might be a bit taken aback by some of the performers that have made the trip to Iraq to entertain the troops. Drowning Pool is one such group that might not have been on his favorites list but they made the trip and are working with IAVA-Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, to promote passage of an important piece of legislation dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Almost one third of the soldiers that return from Iraq and Afghanistan will be dealing with mental health problems. The Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act of 2007 would  take the necessary step of giving soldiers the proper medical care they need. Drowning Pool has been touring the country and challenging people to support this legislation. They recently went to Washington D.C. to present a petition to the first Iraq War veteran to serve  in Congress, Patrick Murphy. More information is available at ThisisfortheSoldiers.org where you can still sign the petition.

For or against the war-doesn’t matter-this is important!

Watch their video of This is for the Soldiers and crank up the volume!

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