WASHINGTON, June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Alliance for the
Mentally Ill issued the following statement on the proposed study of mental
health care costs in lieu of coverage:

"When are the interests of Americans with severe mental illnesses going
to be more important to Congress than those of big business and trade
associations?" asked Laurie M. Flynn, Executive Director of the National
Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). "The proposed compromise of a cost
study of mental illness instead of non-discriminatory health insurance
coverage is worse than a cop-out. It is a direct hit on America's most
vulnerable people and their families.
"Throughout this debate on health insurance reform, people with severe
brain disorders such as schizophrenia, manic-depression, and major
depression have been used as bargaining chips by politicians of both
parties who refuse to accept the scientific facts of effective diagnosis
and treatment. Instead they propose another study. Instead some
Republicans opt to please the Chamber of Commerce. For families, parity
for sever mental illness is not about mandates. It is about righting an
injustice. Some Democrats choose to pacify the big trade associations of
providers who would directly benefit from coverage of mental health
"While they study what has already been studied, the costs of not
treating people will rise: more sick people on the streets, in shelters and
in jail. While they study, more treatments will be developed to treat
these profound brain disorders. While they study, five million Americans
each year will be denied access to life-saving treatments. Costs will be
shifted to the taxpayer and to care-giving families. Individuals with these
brain disorders and their families will continue to be vulnerable to
financial ruin. While they study, people will die.
"If Kassebaum-Kennedy finally passes, almost all Americans will have
portability and protection of pre-existing conditions, except those with
severe mental illnesses. The fact is ending discrimination against severe
mental illness has been studied. Coverage has been proven to be
affordable. There is no scientific basis for continued discrimination.
Non-discriminatory coverage has been passed in six states and has been
publicly endorsed by three of our nation's governors.
"This is not health insurance reform. This is health insurance as
usual. We urge Congress to wake up to the facts about severe mental
illnesses and cover them as other brain disorders such as Parkinson's
Disease and epilepsy."
NAMI, the non-profit organization representing 140,000 people with
serious brain disorders and their families, has been leading a grassroots
campaign to end discrimination against severe mental illnesses. NAMI
chapters are active at the state and local level in all 50 states.
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/CONTACT: Farrell Fitch of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill,

CO: National Alliance for the Mentally Ill ST: District of Columbia IN: