House Passes Mental Health Parity Bill Endorsed by BIAA
Also this week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1424, mental health parity legislation sponsored by Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) which would require health insurers to offer mental health benefits equal in cost and scope to medical and surgical benefits. BIAA issued an enthusiastic letter of endorsement for the bill shortly before it was considered on the House floor.
NOTE: This letter will be publicly available shortly on BIAA's website, at http://www.biausa.org/policyissues.htm.
In its endorsement letter, BIAA urged passage of the bill, noting that, "An intricate and intertwined relationship exists between substance abuse, mental health, and traumatic brain injury (TBI)... TBI is one of the most common and tragic consequences of substance abuse, especially by teenagers and young adults. In addition, neurobehavioral problems commonly arise as a direct result of TBI, and psychotherapeutic services are integral to successful neurorehabilitation programs."
The outlook for ultimate passage of the bill this year is unclear at this time, as Congressional Quarterly (CQ) News reported on March 5, 2008, "[H.R. 1424] now goes to the Senate, where it will have to overcome a strongly worded White House statement opposing it and warnings from key senators that the Senate prefers its version [S. 558] and will not conference the issue."
The Senate version of the bill is generally viewed as the "weaker" bill in terms of requirements on insurers, and has the support of business and insurance lobbies, who oppose the House bill. Unlike the Senate bill, the House bill would require insurers to cover a broad variety of mental health conditions.
As things move forward, BIAA will continue to enthusiastically support the stronger House version of the bill.