Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Action Alert: Help Rescind the Bush Conscience Clause Rule

Last September, the Secular Coalition for America and our supporters lobbied the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to protect our rights to medical services from religious objectors by withdrawing the so-called "conscience clause” rule proposal. Now, as the Obama Administration attempts to rescind this rule that inappropriately places the religious beliefs of health care workers above the medical needs of their patients, we need your help.

Tell Obama’s Acting Director of Health and Human Services--Charles E. Johnson--that it is unethical for our government to encourage health care workers to deny important medical information and services to patients based on the perceived needs of a worker's religious beliefs. Moreover, it would be irresponsible for the government to permit religiously motivated workers receiving federal funds to compromise federal programs by refusing to carryout their responsibilities.

While the HHS has proposed to rescind the rule, it has also asked for comment "on whether the objectives of the ... rule might also be accomplished through non-regulatory means." Instead of trying to accomplish the same objectives through other means, urge Secretary Johnson to completely rescind the rule and not to attempt to find middle ground that placates religious conservatives.

Please take a moment to send a message to HHS Secretary Johnson telling him that you oppose the privilieging of religious beliefs over the rights of patients.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

NAMI: Grading the States 2009

Full Grading the States report online at:


National Average is a D
14 States Improve Grades; 12 Fall Backwards

State Budget Crises Threaten Ruin

Washington, D.C. - The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has released a new report, Grading the States, assessing the nation's public mental health care system for adults and finding that the national average grade is a D.

Fourteen states improved their grades since NAMI's last report card three years ago. Twelve states fell backwards.

Oklahoma showed the greatest improvement in the nation, rising from a D to a B. South Carolina fell the farthest, from a B to a D. However, the report comes at a time when state budget cuts are threatening mental health care overall.

"Mental health care in America is in crisis," said NAMI executive director Michael J. Fitzpatrick. "Even states that have worked hard to build life-saving, recovery-oriented systems of care stand to see their progress wiped out."

"Ironically, state budget cuts occur during a time of economic crisis when mental heath services are needed even more urgently than before. It is a vicious cycle that can lead to ruin. States need to move forward, not retreat."

This is the second report NAMI has published to measure progress in transforming what a presidential commission on mental health called "a system in shambles."

NAMI's grades for 2009 include six Bs, 18 Cs, 21 Ds and six Fs, based on 65 specific criteria such as access to medicine, housing, family education, and support for National Guard members.

"Too many people living with mental illness end up hospitalized, on the street, in jail or dead," Fitzpatrick said. "We need governors and legislators willing to make investments in change."

In 2006, the national average was D. Three years later, it has not budged.

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

Full Grading the States report online at: