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Not voting for parity is a vote against mental health

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:32pm

Some states, like Alaska, have taken progressive steps in shaping an effective system for handling mental health care. Others have struggled to secure funding to build housing or launch new programs. But at least they're trying.

Then there's New Jersey, whose mental health system is not too far removed from the days when people were locked up in sanitariums and supplied with little more than diapers and bread crumbs.

That's why mental health advocates are outraged that lawmakers in the Garden State recently committed a "non-vote" on mental health and addiction parity legislation. Groups such as Parent to Parent faulted state Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts for not posting the bill for a vote in his chamber, where it has 40 cosponsors signed on.

The parity bills ( S807 and A2512 ) require health insurance plans to provide benefits for mental disorders and substance use disorders at the same amounts and limits that are applied to other disorders.

The Senate bill (S807) already passed 29 to 9. Now, advocates say, urgent action is needed.

Advocates for individuals with mental disorders and substance use disorders - as well as the New Jersey Psychiatric Association - support these bills, along with members of the Coalition for Mental Health and Addiction Parity in New Jersey.

The NJPA specifically asks people to:

1. Go to the links below immediately and send email messages urging the Assembly leadership to post the bills in the Assembly.

2. Please ask others to go to these links and make the same requests.

Here are the links (not case sensitive). All the directions are on the sites:

http://capwiz.com/ncaddnj/issues/alert/?alertid=10497071&type=CU&how_alert=1
Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts.
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/
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