Mental Health Parity Update

This week, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D R.I.), Rep. Jim Ramstad, and 254 co-sponsors introduced a mental health parity bill (H.R. 1367) that is stronger than the bill that his father’s (Sen. Ted Kennedy (D Mass.)) HELP committee cleared in the Senate. Although the text of the bill has not yet been posted, Business Insurance explains that

The House measure is different in at least two significant ways. While the Senate bill would pre-empt state laws mandating cost-sharing and treatment parity for mental health care services, the House bill would allow states to set stronger standards. Additionally, while the Senate bill would leave it to employers to decide on which mental disorders they will cover, the House bill mandates that employer plans would have to provide coverage for the same range of mental disorders and illnesses which are covered by federal health care plans available to members of Congress.

Infozine reports that “Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) told policymakers and mental health advocates [yesterday at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health law) that letting insurance companies define mental illness when setting limits on coverage is ‘bogus.'” However, provider and industry groups have coalesced around the Senate bill.