Past Releases: Honoring Patrick Kennedy and 2009 Legislators of the Year
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WASHINGTON DC, June 10, 2009—The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council) is honoring Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) with its first-ever Behavioral Health Champion award, for his outstanding support of people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. The National Council also named six U.S. Senators and Congressmen as Legislators of the Year: Sen. Max. Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA).
A vocal leader on mental health issues, Rep. Kennedy has been a strong proponent of healthcare reform since he was elected to Congress in 1994. He led the long fight in Congress to pass mental health and addiction parity, ending discrimination in health insurance. His work to make universal health coverage a reality and his efforts in preventive care have earned him accolades from colleagues, constituents and patients nationwide. His personal confrontation with bipolar disorder and substance abuse has served to make him even more dedicated to the cause of those who face similar challenges.
“Representative Kennedy has built a legacy for all those with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. His crusade to end stigma and bring about parity reflect tenacity and deep empathy for those who suffer in silence. We appreciate him for affirming his belief in recovery and expanding access to treatment,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council.
The National Council is also honoring six U.S. Senators and Congressmen as Legislators of the Year for their efforts to raise awareness of the critical need for better health coverage for mental health and addiction treatments. Honorees include:
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT): Sen. Baucus has long distinguished himself for his ongoing commitment to protecting our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. As chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Finance, Sen. Baucus has skillfully guided the passage of many pieces of healthcare legislation that have benefited millions across the nation and made an indelible mark on their well-being and lives.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA): Sen. Harkin’s landmark legislative achievement, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, literally changed the landscape of America by requiring accessible buildings and transportation, and ensuring workplace accommodations for people with physical and mental disabilities.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME): Sen. Snowe has worked on an array of healthcare issues, including healthcare reform and prescription drug coverage for Medicare recipients. A member of the Senate Finance Committee, she led efforts to bring equity to Medicare and introducing legislation to end the long history of discriminatory copayments in Medicare Part B.
Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA): Rep. Bono Mack has been recognized for her exceptional leadership qualities and her unrelenting efforts to improve the nation’s healthcare system. As a member of the Bipartisan Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, she worked to raise awareness of the critical need for increased funding for addiction treatment in the United States.
Rep. David Obey (D-WI): A staunch advocate for children with mental disorders, Rep. Obey has provided exceptional leadership and support for the Children’s Mental Health Services Program. Most recently, he acted to reduce high mortality rates among persons with severe mental illnesses securing a federal grant to bring primary care services into community mental health organizations.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA): Rep. Roybal-Allard is leading an initiative to designate persons with mental illnesses as a health disparities population and has recently introduced the GUIDE (Guidance, Understanding, and Information for Dual Eligibles) Act to help those with cognitive impairments navigate the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.
“We applaud these legislators for their tireless work to give Americans access to effective mental health and addiction services,” said Rosenberg. “Their efforts have provided support for people in desperate need.”
The awards are being given as some 350 members from 40 states are in Washington for the National Council’s Hill Day, to add their voices to the healthcare reform debate. They are meeting with their members of Congress to ask for the resources that people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders need to live full and productive lives.
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,600 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.