|Access to Medications|
|Prescribing Privileges for Psychologists|
|Psychiatric Advance Directives|
|Seclusion and Restraints|
|State and Federal Budget Issues|
Two thousand and seven has seen historic progress in the nearly 20 year effort to achieve a comprehensive federal protection to ensure that mental illnesses are covered in insurance plans on the same terms and conditions as all other medical conditions. The Senate unanimously passed a parity bill (S 558) on September 18. Three separate committees in the House have cleared a separate version (HR 1424) with bipartisan support. The bills are very similar and the differences between them can, and should, be easily resolved when Congress returns in December.
In addition, under congressional budget rules, a budget 'offset" (totaling $3.1 billion over 10 years) must be found to make up for lost revenue as a result of group health plans paying for additional mental illness treatment with before tax dollars – as opposed to families having to pay for mental illness treatment with after tax dollars once they run up against discriminatory limits in their health plans.
It is important you engage members of Congress wherever you see them during the holiday season to remind them that they cannot fail to complete action on this bipartisan legislation. Advocates are encouraged to reach out to members of Congress at events like: town hall meetings, radio call-in programs, holiday parades, shopping malls, and Christmas tree lightings.
Help the sponsors of the House and Senate parity bills – Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN) – achieve this long sought victory for people living with mental illness and their families!