NAMI Applauds Bipartisan Mental Illness Insurance Parity Bill

Statement of Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Feb 12 2007

NAMI is proud to support the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 and the unprecedented bipartisan agreement achieved by Senators Pete Domenici, Ted Kennedy and Mike Enzi.

NAMI is the nation’s largest organization representing individuals and families who live with serious mental illness. For 20 years, we have fought for health insurance parity laws to ensure that employer health plans provide equitable coverage for medical illnesses such as such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and severe anxiety disorders.

Today our nation takes a major step forward with the introduction of this bill. Significant improvements will be made to existing law.

  • It expands on the federal parity law passed in 1996 by prohibiting limits on inpatient days and outpatient visits that apply only to mental illnesses and not other illnesses.
  • It prohibits higher co-payments, deductibles and other financial restrictions that apply only to mental illnesses and not other illnesses.
  • Finally and most importantly, the legislation applies these new standards to self-insured plans that are currently exempt from 41 state mental health parity laws. Those plans cover an estimated 82 million Americans.

Agreement exists for the bill to start moving forward quickly in the Senate, with the cooperation and support of employers and insurers. There is mutual desire to provide effective treatment for serious mental illnesses on equal terms within healthcare plans. There is clear recognition that untreated mental illness only burdens us all as a nation.

This historic breakthrough would not have been possible without the leadership of Senators Domenici, Kennedy and Enzi. We deeply appreciate their commitment, applaud their achievement, and look forward to continuing to work with them to enact the bill into law.

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