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Pelosi Statement on Implementation of Historic Mental Health Parity Law

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on the Obama Administration’s newly issued rules implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to require insurers to provide benefits and treatment for mental health and addiction just like physical ailments:

“Today is an historic day for our nation and for millions of Americans battling addiction or mental illness.  At long last, we will not cover treatment for illness of the brain differently from illness of the body.

“This is a moment decades in the making.  Nearly forty years ago, First Lady Rosalyn Carter was working to draw attention to the stigma and discrimination facing those struggling with mental illness.  Five years ago, Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s tremendous legislative leadership drove Congress to pass the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act that made today possible.  That bill, passed on a bipartisan basis by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Republican President, shows what we can achieve when we work together for the American people.

“With this step, the Obama administration has acted on all 23 executive actions to reduce gun violence outlined after the Sandy Hook school massacre.  But we know there is still more to be done – both to prevent gun violence and to increase access to mental health services.

“There is no shame in mental illness.  The only shame is in denying those grappling with addiction or mental illness the same dignity and care as those with a physical ailment.”