Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Mental Health Parity Bill Still on Track for Passage

During the last few weeks we reported that it is likely a bipartisan mental health parity bill will emerge from this Congress after years of inaction on the issue.

That prediction still holds today.

In past years, the Republican Congressional leadership blocked the bill even though the votes were there for passage--with many Republicans behind it. With the Democrats now controlling the Congressional agenda, there is no longer any obstacle to passage.

A compromise bill in the Senate, sponsored by Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and supported by the insurance industry and large employer health plan sponsors, will eventually trump a House version sponsored by his son, Patrick Kennedy (D-RI). The Senate mental health parity bill differs from the House version because it does not specify which mental health conditions will be covered (that is left to plan sponsors) and it would override tougher state mandates creating a single national standard.

Dad is confident he and his son “will find ways of working together.” Not hard to predict who’s going to win this one.
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