March 5, 2008
By a vote of 268-148, the US House of Representatives on March 5th passed its version of the mental health insurance parity bill (HR 1424), setting up what is likely to be a difficult negotiation with the Senate, which passed its version (S 558) unanimously this past fall. Both bills require group health plans to cover mental illness and substance abuse disorders on the same terms and conditions as all other illnesses – equity with respect to durational treatment limits (inpatient days and outpatient visits) and financial limitations (cost sharing, deductibles, out-of-pocket limits, etc.). However, there are important differences between the House and Senate bills that must be resolved.
Equitable coverage of mental illness treatment has been a top legislative priority for NAMI for nearly 20 years. 2008 represents a historic opportunity to finally pass insurance parity legislation. Send a letter to your member of Congress and tell them that Congress cannot allow this historic opportunity to enact insurance parity to slip away. Now is the time to come to an agreement that can get through the House, the Senate and be signed by President Bush. Congress must act in 2008!
The debate in the House was remarkable in the level of consensus over long held principles that NAMI has sought to achieve. While there were differences among members of Congress over the specifics in the House bill, there was unanimous agreement on the need for federal intervention to ensure equitable coverage of mental illness treatment. Democrats and Republicans of all political stripes spoke on the House floor about their personal experience with mental illness, the burden imposed by untreated mental illness and the need for covering and treating these costly disorders just like any other illness.
Learn more about the differences between S 558 and HR 1424 that must be resolved in order to achieve a bill that can pass this year.