NAMI Letter to Governor Pataki (fwd)

rosaphil (
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 16:55:41 -0400 (EDT)

supported housing has kept me offa the streets and outta the hospitals and
prisons and saved the state a whole lotta money.

it's profligate not to provide such and plentifully so.

+********** Snail me yer rosehips if you liked this post! ************
*Better Living Thru Better Living!* *

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 14:49:38 -0400
Subject: NAMI E-News    NAMI Letter to Governor Pataki     

NAMI E-News            June 2, 1999             Vol. 99-147

Following is a letter from NAMI executive director Laurie Flynn to Governor George Pataki of New York, in response to the report by Michael Winerip in the New York Times Magazine documenting the deplorable lack of treatment and services that are known to be effective and affordable for people with severe mental illnesses. NAMI members are encouraged to use this compelling report to augment advocacy efforts,

June 1, 1999

The Honorable George E. Pataki
Executive Chamber State Capitol
Albany, NY  12224

Dear Governor Pataki:

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) calls on you to put things 
right.  End the criminalization, discrimination, homelessness, social isolation, 
and premature death that too often mark the lives of persons with mental 

NAMI is the nation’s leading grassroots advocacy organization solely dedicated 
to improving the quality of life of individuals affected by severe mental 
illnesses.  Our more than 200,000 members across the country know only too well 
the bleak reality that Michael Winerip documented vividly in "Bedlam on the 
Streets" in The New York Times Magazine on May 23, 1999.

While certainly not unique to the state of New York, the failure of the state’s 
mental health system to provide the treatments, services and programs needed by 
Andrew Goldstein guarantees that further tragedies will happen.  Although 
complicated, solutions to New York’s crisis do exist.  

We ask you to support the following moderate, cost-effective initiatives:

· Support mental health parity legislation, which will finally end insurance 
discrimination against those with mental illnesses.  A. 6235 (Brennan) passed 
unanimously in the state assembly and S. 2089 (Libous), a similar bill now in 
the insurance committee, has 20 senate-majority sponsors.  Without timely and 
adequate care, the results of untreated mental illness can be tragic – and 
ultimately, more costly – to the citizens of New York.  Please join the 12 other 
Republican governors, including George Bush of Texas and Christine Todd Whitman 
of New Jersey, who have signed similar parity laws.

· Support housing for people with mental illness.  Last year, you initiated the 
"New York Cares" program for people with developmental disabilities, a $28 
million program that created more than 5,000 housing units and other supports.  
Unfortunately, no new money to create similar housing for individuals with 
mental illness was added to this year’s budget.  Certainly the state of New York 
can do better than this.   

· Support statewide intensive community supports characterized by comprehensive 
community treatment, rehabilitation, and support services on a 24-hour-per-day, 
seven-day-per-week basis – a far less expensive service than 
institutionalization.  New York State currently has only 14 assertive community 
treatment teams, serving only a fraction of those in need; 12 are located in New 
York City, but ten times that number are needed.
· Support access to the best medications.  Health plans and mental health 
special needs plans must offer access to all effective and medically appropriate 
medications.  If a formulary is used, exceptions must be allowed when medically 

· Support establishment of external, third-party consumer satisfaction teams, 
such as those that operate in Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, to 
ensure provider and health plan accountability and responsiveness.

NAMI recognizes the importance, as a last resort, of court-ordered outpatient 
treatment for responding to individuals who are habitually non-compliant with 
treatment and who predictably deteriorate as a result of this lack of treatment. 
But, as Andrew Goldstein’s struggle typifies, far more individuals try to get 
treatment and can’t.  People with severe mental illnesses and their families 
must, first, be assured that community services and programs are in place.

Governor Pataki, you have the power to help hundreds of thousands of New York 
citizens who suffer from severe mental illnesses, as well as their families and 
the broader communities in which they live and work.  A compassionate, civilized 
society does not allow its people to suffer needlessly.  Please pledge your 
leadership and support to helping individuals with severe mental illnesses 
reclaim their lives.


Laurie Flynn
Executive Director

cc:  James Stone, Commissioner, 
New York State Office of Mental Health



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