Minnesota Recovery Connection to Host Bipartisan Parity Field Hearing

Former Members of Congress Jim Ramstad and Patrick Kennedy to lead discussion
ST. PAUL, Minn.—July 10, 2012—Minnesota Recovery Connection (MRC), a nonprofit organization that serves the addiction recovery community through peer-to-peer recovery support, advocacy, and public education and outreach, will host a field hearing for the Parity Implementation Coalition on Monday, July 16. The field hearing is designed to raise awareness of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act (MPHEA) and the critical need for greater enforcement.

The MPHEA, passed by Congress in 2008, requires health insurance companies to provide the same coverage for the treatment of mental illnesses and substance use disorders as for physical health problems. Though signed into law by then President George W. Bush, final implementation of the MPHEA has stalled. To advance implementation efforts, MPHEA co-authors and former Members of Congress Jim Ramstad (R-MN) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) partnered with a number of bipartisan politicians, employers, insurance companies, and other healthcare providers to form the Parity Implementation Coalition. The Coalition is holding field hearings across the country, including in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“Full implementation of the parity law is critically important to the millions of Americans who are seeking or are currently in recovery from mental illness or substance use disorders and who need the care and coverage promised to them under the law,” said co-sponsor of the law and former Congressman Jim Ramstad. “I am honored to help lead this field hearing and help end, at long last, the discrimination that continues within our healthcare system.”

Individuals and families denied coverage for mental health and/or addiction treatment are expected to call on federal regulators to issue final regulations to prevent persistent and ongoing insurance discrimination against those needing behavioral health benefits.

“A majority of our veterans will receive their care through the private insurance system instead of just the VA, and this is added reason for proper implementation of parity for our patriots ‘signature’ wounds of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress injury,” said Patrick Kennedy, former member of Congress and co-sponsor of the MPHEA. “I am dedicated to seeking full implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and look forward to adding my voice to the voices of Minnesotans touched by these illnesses.”

Specific information on the St. Paul field hearing follows.

WHAT: A field hearing to discuss the status of implementation of the Mental Health Parity and
Addiction Equality Act

WHEN: Monday, July 16 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm

WHERE: Minnesota Recovery Connection, 253 State Street, St. Paul, MN

WHO: Participants will include former Congressman Jim Ramstad, former Congressman
Patrick Kennedy, David Wellstone, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Dr. Gavin Bart of
Hennepin County Medical Center, Dr. Charles Schultz of the University of Minnesota,
Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, Minnesota
Department of Human Services Director Kevin Evenson, Kitty Westin of the Emily
Program Foundation, Steele County Judge Casey Christian, Glenn Andis of Medica, and
members of the recovery community. William Moyers, vice president of Public Affairs
and Community Relations at Hazelden will moderate the discussion. In addition, the
Honorable Amy Klobuchar and the Honorable Al Franken will provide video addresses.

For more information on the Parity Implementation Coalition or its series of field hearings, visit
www.parityispersonal.org

About the Parity Implementation Coalition
The Parity Implementation Coalition includes the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychiatric Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, Betty Ford Center, Cumberland Heights, Faces & Voices of Recovery, Hazelden, MedPro Billing, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, TeenScreen, and The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs. The organizations advanced parity legislation for over twelve years in an effort to end discrimination against individuals and families who seek services for mental health and substance use disorders and remain committed to its effective implementation.

About Minnesota Recovery Connectionimage
Minnesota Recovery Connection (MRC) is a nonprofit organization that connects individuals seeking long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs and their families to a vast network of community resources and services. Through peer-to-peer and family support programs and advocacy services, and by leveraging resources both within and outside of the recovery community, MRC increases the prevalence and quality of long-term recovery for individuals, families and whole communities. To learn more, visit www.minnesotarecovery.org.

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