Former Rep. Jim Ramstad of Minnesota, a longtime advocate for addiction treatment who represented Minnesota in the U.S. House from 1991 to 2009, died on Nov. 5 at the age of 74, according to a MinnPost report.
Ramstad for years worked in concert with Sen. Paul Wellstone, also of Minnesota, to produce bipartisan legislation aimed at reducing discrimination by health insurers against individuals with mental illness and addiction. The culmination of his efforts came in 2008 with the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, for which he was a driving force.
“Jim almost singlehandedly rallied Republicans to this issue,” William Cope Moyers, Hazelden Betty Ford VP of public affairs and community relations told MinnPost, adding: “If not for Jim Ramstad we wouldn’t have parity. We just wouldn’t have it.”
Ramstad himself was in recovery from alcohol addiction, and was sober 39 years at the time of his death. Beyond his legislative work, he is credited by those close to him for often helping individuals who were struggling with addiction connect with treatment or attend meetings, taking calls for help outside of his working hours. Following his retirement from Congress, Ramstad joined Hazelden as a senior policy adviser.