Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Decriminalize Mental Illness in Three Easy Steps to Support H.R.619


Representative Eddie Johnson (D-TX) introduced H.R.619, a congressional bill to amend Title XIX of the Social Security Act to resume Medicaid coverage for qualifying inpatients in psychiatric facilities. The bill was introduced in January 2009, and has received no media coverage to notify Americans we have the opportunity to decriminalize mental illness.  Helping is as easy as A, B, C!

A)    CALL at least ten religious, civic, and veteran organizations and let them know about congressional bill H.R.619. 

B)    WRITE a letter of support for H.R.619. Ask your online group hosts to write a letter of support on behalf of the group. Ask your pastor or civic leaders to also draft a letter of support for H.R.619. Post them online so that more people will know we have the opportunity to DECRIMINALIZE MENTAL ILLNESS.

C)    VOTE for H.R.619 at OpenCongress.org. Most congressional bills never get out of committees and onto the floor of the House for a vote.  http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h619/show

We need to know BEFORE the upcoming elections which of our candidates for re-election support human rights.  Everyone needs health care insurance.  H.R.619 is the bill that will make it possible for middle-class and indigent people to be hospitalized if they require long-term care or experience a mental health crisis.  In fact, having access to health care will prevent many crisis situations, and that means safer communities.

Visit the site at the link below to access a letter of support for H.R.619 by National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) on behalf of its 210,000 members. Use it as an example for your own letter, or re-publish NAMI's letter like I did at my blog and say, "I agree with NAMI."   Please demonstrate to elected officials that the congressional bill to resume Medicaid for mental hospital coverage has your support!    http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/1456848

Thank you for helping to end systemic discrimination against mentally challenged Americans, estimated to be one in every five persons.  Since Medicaid was withdrawn as a funding source in the 1970's, roughly 1.25 million mentally challenged people became prisoners, which drove our prison costs to over $50 billion annually. Taxpayers saved nothing, but many of our relatives and neighbors suffer cruel incarceration after crimes that might have been avoided if mental hospitals were more available than they are. Some of our most talented and intelligent fellow citizens have or had mental illness, including musicians, scientists, and political figures.  Supporting H.R.619 shows that we understand there are no throw-away people.  A life is a terrible thing to waste.

JAIL IS THE LAST THING THAT MENTAL PATIENTS NEED, AND TOO OFTEN, IT IS THE VERY LAST THING THEY EXPERIENCE. Please join our effort to decriminalize mental illness. No one deserves to be punished for having a disability.

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