Government News
Domenici Honored For Commitment To People With Mental Illness
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 5 page 1-44

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), a longtime leader in the fight for mental health parity, received one of the most prestigious awards recognizing outstanding public service in the advancement of public health, the AMA’s Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service.

Sen. Domenici was nominated by APA, the New Mexico Medical Society, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The award, which was presented to Domenici last month in Washington, D.C., recognizes his outstanding contributions as a public servant "to the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health."

The award, named for the AMA’s founder, is the organization’s highest award for public service and recognizes elected and career officials at the federal, state, and municipal levels. The award was created in 1989.

"For far too long we have not adequately provided for those suffering from a mental illness," Domenici said in a written statement to Psychiatric News. "We have simply said certain people should be treated differently. That must change starting today. If we place treatment dollars on their backs, they will have the necessary resources to obtain care. I am talking about insurance dollars, the same dollars that have built hospitals that treat only the heart. We must provide the same resources so those with a mental illness are not left behind. We will do this by passing mental health parity sooner rather than later, and two years from now we will begin a new chapter in the fight against mental illness."

Among those attending the ceremony from APA were Medical Director James H. Scully, M.D., and immediate past president Richard Harding, M.D.

"Sen. Domenici was eloquent and direct," Scully told Psychiatric News. "He called on the doctors in all specialties to demand that Americans with mental illnesses get the same health insurance as those with any other illness."

Said President-elect Marcia K. Goin, M.D., to Psychiatric News, "Sen. Domenici has devoted his entire Senate career to protecting the civil rights of all Americans who struggle to recover from mental illness. This award is richly deserved—Sen. Domenici is a true champion. Because of the tireless campaign he and our other bipartisan supporters have waged for simple equality, we are closer today than at any point in our history to outlawing insurance discrimination against psychiatric patients."

"The AMA presents the Nathan Davis Awards each year to encourage and stimulate recognition of the highest public service standards throughout all levels of government," said AMA President Yank D. Coble Jr., M.D., in a press statement. "The recipients have worked tirelessly to improve the health and well-being of their communities."

In addition to Domenici, here are the 2003 winners and the category in which they won:

Tommy Thompson, secretary of Health and Human Services: member of the federal executive branch serving by presidential appointment

U.S. Rep. James Greenwood (R-Pa.): U.S. representative

Judith Elaine Fradkin, M.D., director of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Disease within the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: member of the federal executive branch in career public service

Capt. Daniel Carucci, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Naval Medical Research Center’s malaria program: career military service

Wisconsin State Sen. Judith Robson: member of state senate

Texas State Rep. Patricia Gray: member of state legislature

Virginia State Health Commissioner Robert Stroube, M.D., M.P.H.: career public servant at the state level

Thomas P. Luehring, M.P.H., director of health and human services in Schaumburg, Ill.: career public servant at the local level.

Ms. Abadie is communication manager in APA’s Division of Government Relations.

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