U.S. Senate Passes Parity for Mental Health Insurance: Victory for Consumers and Nation's Needs
Statement of Jim McNulty, NAMI Board President
Oct 31 2001
Late yesterday, the United States Senate passed an amendment to the FY2002 Labor, Health &, Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations bill, based on the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act (S.543), introduced by Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN).
The legislation now requires approval by a conference committee between the Senate and House of Representatives. Those who have waited for this moment can take heart that action should be completed by Thanksgiving-for which many Americans truly will be grateful.
The amendment builds on the 1996 federal parity law that expired on September 30. It prohibits discrimination against mental illness by group health insurance plans. It will benefit the one in five Americans who struggle with mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders or severe anxiety disorders.
NAMI sincerely thanks and commends Senators Domenici and Wellstone and the 63 other Senate co-sponsors of S.534 for moving this legislation forward. We look forward to further action by Congress and the President to enact it into law.