Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Senate Passes "Mental Health Parity Act of 2007"

Today, the Senate passed "Mental Health Parity Act of 2007."

But are the requirements too lax?

According to Mental Health America (press release below), only persons covered by an employer-sponsored health insurance policy will be ensured coverage of mental health care at the same level of general health issues. Typically, employer-sponsored health insurance plans are group policies which must meet minimum requirements set at the federal level. Self-insured plans, which are established by many large employers, are not required to meet the same federal standards. Individual policies, being non-group, are subject to state regulations rather than federal regulations. The result becomes inferior health insurance policies offered to those persons not eligible for employer-sponsored coverage or adequate policies being truly unaffordable for the average person.

Emily DeVoto, PhD., at Health Counterspin decided to pass on a mental health rider after learning it would add $570 to the monthly premium. -- "The reform is long overdue. From my own perspective, I recently picked up temporary health coverage with a modest premium of about $230 per month, and noticed when I got the paperwork that it didn't include a mental health rider. When I inquired about the cost with the mental health coverage, I was told my monthly premium would be on the order of $800 per month. So I skipped it, and prayed for mental fortitude, though as far as I know, prayer is not an evidence-based preventive intervention against mental illness."

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Sept 19, 2007) - Mental Health America commends the United States Senate for passing critical legislation today to end mental health insurance discrimination, and its sponsors, Senators Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) for their leadership. The bill - S. 558, the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 - will ensure that Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance and their families receive mental health care coverage at the same level as coverage for general health problems.

"The support of this legislation is overwhelming as it should be," said David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America. "The science is clear. Tomes of research demonstrate the interconnectivity of mental and general health. Public policy is finally catching up with science through passage of this important legislation." S. 558 has a wide range of supporters that, for the first time, includes business and insurance leaders, as well as mental health advocates. For details on the legislation and more information, go to

"With passage earlier this summer of legislation that would provide parity in mental health coverage under both Medicare and the State Children's Mental Health Program, Congress has a historic opportunity this year to end discrimination against people with mental health disorders in both private plans and federal health programs," said Shern. "As we celebrate this first step, we urge House and Senate leaders to make history." Mental Health America and its national network of affiliates now looks to members of the House to pass S. 558 and make history.

Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation - everyday and in
times of crisis.

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