The House of Representatives has re-introduced The Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity Act of 2007, H.R. 1367, sponsored by Representatives Kennedy (D-RI) and Ramstad (R-MN).
This legislation addresses the discrimination in group health plans against persons with mental or substance use disorders. This bill would expand the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 by prohibiting group health plans from imposing treatment or financial limitations on mental health benefits that are different from those applied to medical/surgical services. The legislation closes the loopholes that allow discrimination in the co-payment, coinsurance, deductible, maximum out-of-pocket limit and day and visit limits. It applies only to group health plans already providing mental health benefits, and excludes (as does current law) health plans sponsored by employers of fewer than 50 people.
In February, the Senate also introduced parity legislation. The bills are somewhat different; however, after each chamber passes their individual bills, they will work out their differences in a conference. For the differences in the House and Senate versions, watch for AACAP’s March Legislative Update.
Action: Please contact your Representative’s office and either thank them for cosponsoring the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity Act, or urge them to cosponsor it. For a list of current cosponsors, please click the link below. AACAP members are urged to call him/her immediately by calling the Capitol Switch board at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Representative’s office. When connected to the office, ask for the Health Legislative Assistant. If you leave a voicemail message, include your name and phone number.
Click here for a current list of parity cosponsors
Your Message for Cosponsors: “I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist from your district and I am calling to thank Representative _________ for cosponsoring the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity Act of 2007, H.R. 1367. I appreciate his/her support for improving access for the many families and children with mental illnesses.”
Your Message for Non Cosponsors: “I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist from your district and I am calling to ask that Representative _________ cosponsors the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity Act of 2007, H.R. 1367. Fewer than one in five children and adolescents with mental illnesses receive treatment. The barriers to treatment include stigma, the lack of affordable treatment and the shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that managed nondiscriminatory mental health benefits will increase average premiums by less than 1% the cost of the average benefit. I appreciate his/her support for improving access for the many families and children with mental illnesses. If I can be of any further help, please let me know.”
Other talking points:
- Many major adult disorders have their onset in childhood, so the earlier the diagnosis and treatment the higher the quality and productivity of life.
- Enactment of a mental health parity law will make mental health and substance abuse services and treatment more affordable, thereby increasing access to treatment for children, adolescents and adults with mental illness.
In addition, we are asking that you visit the Equity Campaign at www.equitycam paign.net. This is a campaign sponsored by Mental Health America, which allows people to log in and register as a citizen cosponsor of the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity Act of 2007.
Please contact the AACAP Dept. of Government Affairs at 800.333.7636, x. 126, or e-mail mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Please let us know when you have contacted your Representative. Thank you for your action!
Department of Government Affairs
Kristin K. Ptakowski, Director
Elizabeth Rorick, Assistant Director
Ramon Gardenhire, Assistant Director for State Advocacy
Abby Schopick, Legislative Assistant