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Experience Of Businesses Refutes Arguments Against Mental Health Parity
Washington, D.C. - Nine major American corporations representing thousands of employees across the United States received today the first-ever Leadership in Business award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) at the organization's annual convention in Washington, D.C. The prestigious award is given for outstanding corporate leadership in providing employees equal insurance coverage for mental illnesses as that provided for other physical illnesses – a practice known as "parity."
"This year's award winners have done a great service to their employees and to the thousands of families that depend on them for healthcare coverage," said Laurie Flynn, executive director of NAMI. "As corporate role models, they set an example for the rest of the business world to follow."
Recipients of this year's award are Black and Decker, Compaq, EEX, Exxon Corporation, Lubrizol, Pitney Bowes Inc., Prime Tanning, Sun Microsystems, and Texas Instruments.
Bruce Davidson, employee assistance and work life programs manager at Compaq, will be accepting the award for his company. "We've worked hard to make sure our employees have the support they need to reach and maintain their full potential, whether in the workplace or at home," said Davidson. "A person who is not getting the treatment they need – or who is concerned about a family member who is not getting treatment – cannot be expected to perform at the level their jobs require."
The National Advisory Mental Health Council this week issued a special report to Congress on the cost of parity. In the report, NAMHC found that for managed care plans, full parity increases total health care costs by less than one percent annually. The study also found that plans implementing parity in conjunction with managed care could actually reduce costs substantially – by as much as 30 percent to 50 percent. All nine companies being honored this week stand as examples to this finding. "None experienced significant increases in health care costs," said Flynn.
Studies from organizations such as the Rand Corporation, William M. Mercer, Inc., and others show the cost of parity is negligible. It is also widely known that access to treatment for mental illness results in lower costs, higher productivity, and reduced absenteeism.
The awards are being presented at NAMI's annual convention being held in Washington, D.C., from July 15-19.
NAMI is the nation's leading grassroots advocacy organization solely dedicated to improving the lives of persons with severe mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), major depression, and anxiety disorders. NAMI has more than 185,000 individual members and 1,200 state and local affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada. NAMI's efforts focus on support to persons with serious brain disorders and to their families; advocacy for nondiscriminatory and equitable federal and state policies; research into the causes, symptoms, and treatments for brain disorders; and education to eliminate the pervasive stigma toward severe mental illnesses.