Rosalyn Carter was the first lady during the presidency of her husband, Jimmy Carter, from 1977 to 1981. She was a strong advocate for several causes in addition to her work as first lady and a close political adviser to her husband, according to Biography
The biggest cause Mrs. Carter tackled began in 1977 when President Carter appointed her the Active Honorary Chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, according to the National First Ladies’ Library
. Mrs. Carter oversaw an advisory board that traveled throughout the U.S. to consult with providers, hold hearings, and gather information. She formed 30 task forces to concentrate on specialized issues.
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The commission presented its recommendations in a final report to the president. The recommendations included enhanced community center services and changes to health insurance coverage, public housing, and Medicaid, Medicare and state support for chronically mentally ill. The recommendations were passed by a presidential proclamation. Mrs. Carter also used her influence to increase federal grants for research in this area of health care.
Mrs. Carter’s work with the commission resulted in the Mental Health Systems Bill, submitted to Congress in 1979, Biography noted. The bill was designed to restructure both state and federal support for the chronically mentally ill and also advocated a bill of rights to protect the mentally ill from discrimination. Mrs. Carter testified before Congress regarding the bill and saw its passage in September 1980.
Another cause that Mrs. Carter worked for tirelessly was aid to senior citizens in need, the National First Ladies’ Library said. Mrs. Carter compiled a task force to review federal programs for the elderly. She met with political and civil advocates for seniors and developed a brochure of recommendations about services for the elderly that was distributed to national, state and local organizations. Mrs. Carter was an active lobbyist in Congress for passage of the Age Discrimination Act that prohibited a mandatory retirement age for federal jobs and raised the mandatory retirement age to 70 in the private sector. She worked on other bills that increased funding for services for seniors, implemented stricter rules for nursing homes, and increased outpatient services.
Mrs. Carter supported the Equal Rights Amendment and traveled to states in support of it, though it was not ratified nationally, according to History.com
Her work for equal rights for women included supporting the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe vs. Wade. She was a supporter of appointing a woman to the Supreme Court, offering the U.S. Attorney General a list of qualified female candidates and preparing a list of qualified women for other presidential appointments.
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