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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bush Addresses Mental Health

Aired April 29, 2002 - 12:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A bit later in L.A., President Bush will make his way. In the meantime, he is in Albuquerque, New Mexico, just about to take the podium and talk about mental health parity, legislation the president first pushed through as governor of Texas, now trying to do it on a national scale.

We'll listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... a window into a compassionate heart.

And I want to thank Nancy Domenici.

(APPLAUSE)

I also want to thank Charles Currie (ph) for coming. Pete introduced Charles (ph). Charles (ph) is a good hand and I appreciate him being here.

I also want to thank Phil Eaton, and all the good folks here at the University of New Mexico.

I'm so honored to also today to be traveling with Heather Wilson. Heather is a solid citizen who brings a lot of dignity to the office she holds and a lot of class. And I'm proud to call her a friend.

I want to thank the state officials who are here. Lieutenant Governor, thank you for coming.

I also want to tell you about a lady I met named Lucy Salazar (ph).

Where's Lucy (ph)? Is she here?

Lucy, thank you for coming.

(APPLAUSE)

It's kind of off the subject, but really not off the subject. It's one of the things I try to do when I go into communities, is herald soldiers in the armies of compassion, those souls who have heard the call to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself, and have followed through on that call. The selfless citizens whose compassion for their neighbor is really one of the things that makes America so strong and powerful, particularly as we stand tall in the face of evil. I like to tell my fellow citizens, "If you're interested in fighting evil," which, by the way, we're going to do -- "if you're interested...

(APPLAUSE)

But one way to help is do some good. And it's that a collective good that will define the true value and character of our country. And Lucy Salazar (ph) is a retired federal government worker. She teaches reading skills to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children. She is incredibly important.

BUSH: She helps those with disabilities participate in the fine and performing arts. She volunteers through her church. She is a great citizen, and oftentimes citizens such as her never get the praise they deserve. Listen, thank you for coming and representing thousands of people (inaudible)...

(APPLAUSE)

Millions of Americans -- millions -- are impaired at work, at school, or at home by episodes of mental illness. Many are disabled by severe and persistent mental problems. These illnesses affect individuals. They affect their families, and they affect our country. As many Americans know, it is incredibly painful to watch someone you love struggle with an illness that affects their mind and their feelings and their relationships with others.

We heard stories today in a roundtable discussion about that struggle means for family. Remarkable treatments exist, and that's good.

BUSH: Yet, many people, too many people, remain untreated. Some end up addicted to drugs or alcohol. Some end up on the streets, homeless. Others end up in our jails or prisons or juvenile detention facilities.

Our country must make a commitment: Americans with mental illness deserve our understanding and they deserve excellent care.

(APPLAUSE)

HEMMER: At the University of New Mexico, President Bush promoting legislation that he hopes to get through on a national scale, legislation, essentially, that would promote and guarantee, essentially, that insurance for mental health disorders is as comprehensive as offered for other illnesses. Many refer to it as the mental health parity.

A number of Republican lawmakers, by the way, and some businesses also have voiced concerns about the cost of insurance that may be tagged to such legislation. Nonetheless, the president did push this through in his home state of Texas while governor there -- and, again, today the kickoff of what he hopes to take nationally as well. We'll leave New Mexico.

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