Past Releases: Legislators and Journalist Honored for Exceptional Efforts to Improve Lives of Americans with Mental Illnesses and Addictions
CONTACT: Communications@thenationalcouncil.org or 301-984-6200, ext. 228.
WASHINGTON, DC (June 27, 2008) — The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare honored seven members of Congress and one journalist for their outstanding dedication and action to improve the lives of adults, children and families with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. Senator Pete Domenici received the National Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Legislative Action and Jeneen Interlandi of Newsweek received the Excellence in Media and Journalism award. Legislator of the Year awards went to Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ken Salazar (D-CO), as well as Representatives Gene Green (D-TX) and Timothy Murphy (R-PA).
“Each of these honorees demonstrates tenacity and commitment to improving the lives of people living with mental illnesses and addictions and their families,” said Linda Rosenberg, MSW, President and CEO of the National Council. “Their efforts help put people on a path to recovery and give them a chance to lead productive lives.”
Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Legislative Action for his long career, which has been marked by a commitment to strengthening the nation’s healthcare safety net and to improving the lives of individuals and families living with mental illnesses. Especially commendable are his efforts to pass comprehensive mental health parity legislation, his leadership in protecting vital rehabilitative and case management services financed through Medicaid, his championship of expanding veterans’ access to mental health services and his leadership in re-authorizing the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act during the 110th Congress.
“Senator Domenici has been a long-time champion of legislative priorities that affect vulnerable Americans with mental illnesses and addictions,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council. “We are pleased to honor him with this Lifetime Achievement Award for Legislative Action. The Senator has been a constant ally to the mental health community.”
Legislator of the Year Awards were presented to:
Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA)
Well-known for his meticulous oversight of the federal bureaucracy, Sen. Grassley often cites Congress’ responsibility to ensure the faithful execution of its laws. He keeps watch over the practices of various federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
As Ranking Member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Grassley consistently demonstrates commitment to protecting Medicaid beneficiaries, especially those with disabilities. In 2003, he steered through Congress the first-ever Medicare prescription drug benefit program, which now has 39 million beneficiaries.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Sen. Stabenow was appointed to the Senate Finance Committee where she plays a key role in addressing the nation’s healthcare, trade and tax policies. Sen. Stabenow is dedicated to reducing healthcare costs and bringing innovative technology to the healthcare system.
In addition, Sen. Stabenow is a tireless advocate for Medicaid and a champion for Americans with mental illnesses and addiction disorders served by the Medicaid program. She has also advanced legislation to expand the role of community mental health organizations participating in the Medicare telehealth program.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. Collins has supported programs to expand access to healthcare for citizens living in rural areas. She co-authored the Access to Affordable Health Care Act, which takes significant strides toward universal health coverage by bringing millions more Americans into the insurance system, strengthening the healthcare safety net and addressing Medicare inequities. As co-chair of the Senate Alzheimer’s Caucus, Sen. Collins has worked to increase funding for Alzheimer research and strengthen support for family caregivers.
Sen. Collins is commitment to mental health issues. She is focused on preventing parents whose children have serious emotional disturbances from being forced to forfeit legal custody to state agencies for the sole purpose of obtaining mental health services for their children. Senator Collins is also a champion for preserving Medicaid services for Americans living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders.
Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO)
Sen. Ken Salazar serves on the Senate Finance Committee and has tackled the challenge of providing affordable healthcare by fighting to broaden the Children's Health Insurance Program and by working to improve healthcare for older Americans.
A long-time friend to behavioral healthcare, Sen. Salazr has also been at the forefront in protecting Medicaid funding for rehabilitative and case management services and expanding treatment options for Veterans living in rural areas.
Representative Gene Green (D-TX)
Rep. Green has been a champion of education, labor and health issues. In 1996, he was appointed to the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health.
A tireless advocate for improving our nation’s health and healthcare system, Rep. Green has tackled such issues as reducing the wait time for Medicare disability coverage, eliminating the citizen documentation requirements that were part of the Deficit Reduction Act and improving the mental health system by introducing the Community Mental Health Services Improvement Act, which provides increased funding and resources for community mental health organizations throughout the country.
Representative Timothy Murphy (R-PA)
Co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, Rep. Murphy was the original co-sponsor of the landmark Community Mental Health Services Improvement Act that would provide new resources and support for community-based mental health care. Among its main provisions, the bill calls for funding to allow community mental health organizations to provide primary care and specialty mental health services in the same setting.
Rep. Murphy was also the original co-sponsor of the Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008, legislation that would curtail vital mental health services by delaying implementation of Medicaid regulations, and a sponsor of the Seniors Access to Mental Health Act of 2007.
Each year, the National Council also honors journalists who excel in covering mental health and addictions issues –demonstrating clear and accurate portrayals as well as superior journalistic quality – with its Excellence in Media and Journalism Award. This year, the honor went to Jeneen Interlandi.
Jeneen Interlandi is a health and science reporter for Newsweek. Her recent stories (“What Addicts Need” in the March 3 issue and “The Anti-Drug Drug” in the January 3 issue) address addictions as chronic illnesses – not weaknesses – and new vaccines and drugs that may improve addiction treatment. Her other stories include feature articles about scientific fraud and HIV+ immigrants, as well as shorter pieces on the latest drug discoveries and the criminal conditions at New York’s largest psychiatric ward.
“The media is the primary means most Americans gain information about mental illnesses and addiction disorders,” said Rosenberg. “We are pleased to recognize Jeneen Interlandi for her insightful coverage and for promoting public awareness of mental illnesses and addictions as treatable health conditions."
The National Council presented the 2008 honorees their awards at the National Council’s Legislator of the Year Reception, part of its annual “Capitol Hill Day” in which more than 300 representatives from mental health and addictions services organizations gathered in Washington D.C. to advocate for adequately funded, effective mental health and addictions services across the country.
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,300 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.