Mental health parity caught up in economic rescue plan

Here is a news release from the American Mental Health Counselors Association regarding the intertwining of mental health parity and the economic rescue debate…

E-News from Washington
Vol. 08-39
October 1, 2008
Parity Legislation Now Part of Bailout Package
Congress remains focused on passage of a major package of measure to relieve the crisis in the financial industry. The House failed in its attempt to pass a bailout package on Tuesday, September 30. This evening, October 1, the Senate will attempt to pass a slightly modified relief package, which also includes mental health and addictive disorder parity legislation and an array of tax policy provisions. The mental health parity language included in the Senate’s bailout package is the same language as was approved by both the House and the Senate last week as part of a larger package of tax policy renewals and extensions. The tax package, including the parity provisions, has been stalled due to disagreements between Democrats in the House and Republicans in the Senate regarding the extent to which tax credits and breaks should be paid for.
Although the Senate is expected to approve the new, expanded bailout package, including the mental health parity and tax extenders provisions, it is unclear how the legislation will be received by House members. AMHCA and ACA will attempt to keep members apprised of developments as they occur. In the meantime, counselors are encouraged to continue contacting their Representatives and Senators to urge the enactment of parity legislation before Congress adjourns for the year.

I have blogged about parity before and am generally in favor of this kind of legislation. I understand that requiring insurers to cover certain conditions may seem like an undue interference in the market. However, I think most opposition comes from a misunderstanding that severe mental and emotional conditions have much of their genesis in the brain as the organ of consciousness.

2 thoughts on “Mental health parity caught up in economic rescue plan”

  1. It would appear that focus must be placed on removing the stigma of mental health conditions for true change to come about and for sufferers to be assisted. Changes in the Medicare system in Australia seem to have made some progress here – no longer are clients assisted only with chronic conditions; instead I increasingly see clients whose lifestyles and workplaces result in severe mental health challenges. Insurance companies have a role to play here by acknowledging the severity of the conditions and minimising the stigma of mental health interventions through policy change.

  2. We are seing a similar issues in our own country (Australia). We offer counselling services in sydney australia and are appalled by the amount of people who have private health insurance who nonetheless are not able to receive mental health care. On the other hand, beginning in November last year, our Government stepped up to atleast provide some psychologists services through our Medicare system. We are watching the debate with interest.
    Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney

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