Washington, D.C., November 6, 2020 – Today, Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum, issued the following statement in response to the passing of Jim Ramstad who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991-2009, representing Minnesota’s 3rd congressional district. Ramstad was the lead Republican cosponsor of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA).
“As a person who lived in long-term recovery, Jim’s empathy and understanding of the brain disease of addiction and those who suffer from it touched many lives. Not only through the policies he advanced in Congress, but also through the compassion he showed to others, including me.
“He was the first one to reach out to me when I confronted my own addiction to drugs and alcohol as a sitting member of Congress. He invited me into his recovery network and helped to facilitate the support system I desperately needed—eventually becoming my personal sponsor in 12-step recovery and standing by my side while I learned to navigate sobriety in the public eye. His quiet strength and guidance changed my life.
“Jim and I became bipartisan allies like no other. For the first time, two members of Congress with lived experience were speaking as a united voice for millions living with mental health and addiction challenges. Jim had made it his personal mission to ensure that addiction equity was represented in MHPAEA. But together, we set out to champion the concept of comorbidity—standing up for the fact that mental illness and substance use disorders very often occur together, and, therefore, should be covered equally by insurers.
“Jim’s commitment to this cause will continue to make a difference for years to come. Today, advocates’ fight to address increasing rates of addiction and overdoses through increased access to care is built on the foundation he worked so hard to create.
“Our thoughts are with Jim’s family, especially his wife, Kathryn. May you take comfort in the legacy this great man leaves behind.”
About The Kennedy Forum
Founded in 2013 by former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), The Kennedy Forum leads a national dialogue on transforming the health care system by uniting mental health advocates, business leaders, and government agencies around a common set of principles, including full implementation of the Federal Parity Law. Launched in celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the landmark Community Mental Health Act, the nonprofit aims to achieve health equity by advancing evidence-based practices, policies, and programming for the treatment of mental health and addiction. The Kennedy Forum’s “Don’t Deny Me” campaign educates consumers about their rights under the Federal Parity Law and connects them with essential appeals guidance and resources. To learn more about The Kennedy Forum and donate, please visit www.thekennedyforum.org.