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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy Died

Edward Moore Ted Kennedy with his brothers Jack and Bobby

The world lost another great man this week, a man who had traits that we could all hope to have. In May of 2008 Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932 - August 25, 2009) was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor which limited his appearances in the Senate. He died on August 25, 2009, at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. According to Wikipedia, "Kennedy played a major role in passing many laws, including laws addressing immigration, cancer research, health insurance, apartheid, disability discrimination, AIDS care, civil rights, mental health benefits, children's health insurance, education and volunteering. In the 2000s, he led several unsuccessful immigration reform efforts. At the time of his death, he was continuing to work on universal health care legislation, which is often described as his 'life's work'".

Ted Kennedy was the champion of many great causes in the United States; the mistakes he made in his early life are now overshadowed by his great deeds. Over the years, it has been said, Teddy had his struggles with alcohol, as did his son Patrick Kennedy; both of them fought for the rights of addicts as well as the rights of all. We owe a lot to the Kennedys for the legislative changes they were responsible for during their lifetimes; our younger generations are truly not aware of most of their great deeds. The blood, sweat, and tears that the Kennedy family gave and is still giving is absolutely amazing and something to marvel over!

Representative Patrick Kennedy (RI) has been a champion for the cause of alcoholics and addicts; he himself suffers from Bi-Polar disorder and the disease of addiction. Patrick worked tirelessly for the bill HR1424 (known as the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008) and it was finally passed in 2008 as part of Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. The bill ensures that people who suffer from the disease of addiction and mental disorders can get a fair shake from their insurance companies. According to then Republican Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico: "This bill targets insurance plans that cover more than 50 employees. About 113 million people, we figure, are in group insurance plans that have, as part of their health care, mental health coverage. All of those, now, will have imposed on their insurance policy by operation of law that the insurance company will pay for mental health treatment in exactly the same way they cover physical ailments — the same amount of days in the hospital, the same amount of co-pay, and all the other technical words will be equal. And that's not what it used to be, and not what it is today. Insurance companies were already moving in that direction, but now we've made it so they can't slide backwards"(Time.com).

I encourage everyone to watch this video of Rep. Patrick Kennedy testifying concerning mental health parity at a House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions hearing on July 10, 2007. This is a powerful video and it helps to clarify the "disease of addiction." I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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