Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), 42, advocate for the implementation of health information technology and mental health parity, announced that he will not be seeking re-election this fall.
“My father taught me that politics at its very core was about serving others. For two decades I've been humbled and honored to represent the people of our state,” the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), said in a video statement. “My life is taking a new direction and I will not be a candidate for re-election this year.”
Kennedy co-chairs the 21st Century Health Care Caucus, which was established to drive change in the healthcare system by implementing health IT systems.
Late last year, he introduced the “Personal Health Record Act of 2009," which among other things would require the National Coordinator to develop guidelines on technological standards for interoperability between personal health records and electronic health records, and make recommendations for the incorporation of PHRs into community and behavioral health programs.
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.
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 family is elected in November.