Kennedy, 42, co-chairs the 21st Century Health Care Caucus, which was established to drive change in the healthcare system by implementing health IT systems.
His greatest accomplishment as a driver of healthcare reform, however, was the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 he co-authored to establish mental health and addiction equity. The legislation went into effect in October of 2008.
“With this law now effective, we can ensure that those suffering from mental illness and addiction get the care they need, and insurance companies are no longer allowed to discriminate against them by imposing differential treatment limitations or financial requirements,” Kennedy said, applauding the release of interim final regulations in January to implement the new law.
Kennedy fought his own battles with drug use over the years, admitting an addiction to prescription drugs in 2006, which he sought treatment for.
In his video statement, Kennedy said he would continue his work to help people suffering from depression, addiction, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kennedy served Rhode Island as a U.S. representative for 16 years. His departure from Capitol Hill means that Congress may be operating without a Kennedy in office for the first time since 1947, unless another member of the clan is elected in November, news reports stated.
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