During his 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving Rhode Island’s First Congressional District, Patrick J. Kennedy fought to end discrimination against mental illness, addiction, and other brain diseases. He is best known as the lead sponsor of the groundbreaking Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).
In 2013, he founded The Kennedy Forum, a non-profit organization whose mission is to lead a national dialogue on transforming mental health and addiction care delivery by uniting mental health advocates, business leaders, and government agencies around a common set of principles. The Forum aims to achieve health equity by advancing evidence-based practices, policies, and programming in mental health and substance use.
In the spring of 2017, Kennedy was appointed to serve on the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The Commission, chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, studied ways to combat and treat the scourge of drug abuse and addiction in the U.S., ultimately delivering a final report of recommendations to President Donald Trump. Kennedy’s personal contributions focused on the declaration of a federal emergency. He also pushed the Commission to issue strong parity recommendations, which included asking Congress to give the Department of Labor authority to levy civil monetary penalties against health insurers and asking all regulators to use a standardized tool when performing parity compliance investigations.
Kennedy co-authored the New York Times Bestseller A Common Struggle where he shared both his personal narrative and how he shepherded the Federal Parity Law.
Amid countless recognitions, meaningful partnerships, and political affiliations, Patrick J. Kennedy’s most important achievement continues to be leveraging his powerful family legacy in the arenas of civil rights, mental health, and intellectual disabilities to advance the cause of social justice and health equity for all people. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Amy, and their soon to be five children.