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Reform Jewish Movement Welcomes Introduction of Mental Health Parity Legislation

Pelavin: Mental illness in this country has been marginalized and ignored for too long.


Contact : Alexis Rice or Julie Silverman 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2002 - In response to yesterday's introduction of the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act of 2002 (H.R. 4066) by Representatives Marge Roukema (R-NJ) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

    We applaud Representatives Marge Roukema and Patrick Kennedy for introducing the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act of 2002 (H.R. 4066) in the House. This important legislation - the companion to similar legislation (S. 543) introduced by Senators Pete Domenici (R-AZ) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN) in the Senate - would put an end to the long-held practice of insurance discrimination against the mentally ill. Over 230 Members of the House expressed support for this legislation in December when it was considered as an amendment to the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, and we hope these Members will continue their support by signing on to the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act as co-sponsors.


    Mental illness in this country has been marginalized and ignored for too long. Though nearly 20 percent of Americans suffer from some form of mental illness in any given year, people with mental illness still face ridicule, stigmatization, and exclusion. The fact that we allow health plans to sustain and bolster this stigmatization by discriminating against the mentally ill is unacceptable. Were insurance companies to limit the treatment of asthma, diabetes, or cancer patients, we would be outraged. We are similarly alarmed and horrified that health plans do limit access to necessary mental health treatment.

    Jewish tradition teaches that when there is a way to alleviate suffering, not to do so is to deny our responsibility to humankind. We join Representatives Roukema and Kennedy, as well as Senators Wellstone and Domenici, in working to ensure mental health parity for the millions of Americans suffering from mental illness.

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    The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .



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