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SAMHSA News - Volume XI, Number 1, Winter 2003
 

Mental Health Commission Examines Service Fragmentation

(Related Content)

Senator Domenici Addresses Presidential Commission


In January, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and his wife, Nancy, addressed the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

Acknowledging both his personal and professional commitment to mental health issues, Sen. Domenici said that fragmentation happened in the American mental health system because care of people with mental illness "got started in different ways—started here and there, one state then another—with bits and pieces."

He also said that the stigma of mental illness played a part in the current lack of support and fragmentation of services. "How can there be sufficient resources for mental illness when we didn't believe that people were sick for most of America's history?

"Somebody made an exception in an insurance policy and it's stood ever since . . . as if it's some kind of dogma," he said. "You can cover the heart for all kinds of operations and research, but you can't cover the brain for diseases of the brain. That was a terrible exception that was made by insurance policies and it still lives with us. And, we're about to give the business community a big tax break, so it's OK to ask for a little health insurance for the sick."

He urged the Commission to "support, right off the bat, full parity-full insurance coverage for mental illness. Don't be scared of it because the President already knows we need that. Say 'We know you agree with this Mr. President. We just need to get it done.' "

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