Seeking mental health care equality

Helen Palmer Jul 18, 2007


Lisa Napoli: One legislative priority the Democrats are pushing this summer is mental health parity — the promise that insurance coverage for psychiatric disease will be as generous as for physical illness. The Senate already has a bill and a House committee will hammer out its final version today. From the Health Desk at WGBH, Helen Palmer has more.

Helen Palmer: Both the House and Senate bills seek to ensure that patients with psychiatric illness don’t face discrimination or excess cost-sharing.

But business interests see the House bill as a much worse alternative.

Neil Trautwein: It goes too far and constrains our ability to manage mental health benefits.

Neil Trautwein of the National Retail Federation says the House version requires broader coverage that would allow states to mandate more extensive benefits as well.

That could make it hard for retailers who operate on thin profit margins to afford health insurance for workers, says Trautwein, so he prefers the Senate bill.

Trautwein: The Senate sponsors worked with us, worked with mental health advocates to reach a fair compromise; the House sponsors did not.

There’s no date yet for a vote on these bills in either the full Senate or the House and little time to fit them in before the August recess.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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