Alexandria, VA—Mental Health America (MHA) will be recognizing a very select group of state legislators who have made mental health a priority in their states. These Mental Health Champions will be honored by MHA’s Regional Policy Council (RPC) meeting, which coincides with the National Council of State Legislators (NCSL) meeting in Chicago next week, August 10th.
MHA is proud to recognize the following distinguished legislators who have a track record that demonstrates that mental health issues are bipartisan. They have fought for changes that not only improve people’s lives but also improve the bottom line for their states.
- Missouri Representative Marsha Haefner, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, for working tirelessly and with compassion to engender bipartisan support for mental health legislation, policy and funding.
- Missouri Senator Gina Walsh, member of the Appropriations Committee, for working on both sides of the aisle to help her colleagues understand and appreciate the critical needs of people living with mental illness.
- Kansas Representative Louis E. Ruiz, Ranking Minority Member Assistant Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, for championing mental health funding and services and for advocating for the underserved and disenfranchised.
- Illinois Representative Patti Bellock, Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, for playing an important leadership role in enacting and strengthening Illinois’ mental health parity law, as well as sponsoring numerous bills that reflect the priorities of MHA.
- Illinois Representative Lou Lang, Deputy Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, for championing Mental Health Parity and continuing over the years to ensure that the parity law in Illinois is one of the strongest in the nation.
- Iowa Senator Pam Jochum, President of the Iowa Senate, for her instrumental role in the passage of a Medicaid Oversight bill, working with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to gain support to pass the legislation despite opposition from the Governor’s office.
- Iowa Representative Chuck Isenhart, member of the House of Representatives, who worked tirelessly on the local level to help people access the care they need, following the Governor’s introduction of managed care in the state.
“MHA is honored to recognize state legislators who are front-line mental health champions,” said Debbie Plotnick, MHA Vice President of Mental Health and Systems Advocacy. “These men and women understand that providing mental health services and supports in their states demonstrates the values of their communities, provides fiscal value to their state budgets, and shows them to be good stewards of public trust and taxpayers dollars.”
The awards program will be the prelude to the RPC Meeting Walking the MHA Talk. The MHA Legislative Awards Program: Finding Value in Mental Health Care will take place on Wednesday, August 10 at 4:15 p.m. at the McCormick Place Convention Center, Room W182.