Congress has re-introduced The Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity Act of 2007, sponsored by Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Domenici (R-NM). The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a mark-up (discussion) and vote on the bill Wednesday February 14, 2007. If the bill passes out of committee it could move to the whole Senate for a vote.
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.
Action: If your Senator is listed below they are a member of the Senate HELP committee. AACAP members are urged to him/her immediately by calling the Capitol Switch board at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator’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.
Edward Kennedy, Chairman (D-MA)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)
Barack Obama (D-IL)
Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Michael B. Enzi, Ranking Member (R-WY)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Richard Burr (R-NC)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Wayne Allard (R-CO)
Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK)
Your Message: “I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist from your state and I am calling to ask that Senator _________ vote in favor of the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 at the February 14th HELP Committee hearing. 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 services and treatment more affordable, thereby increasing access to treatment for children, adolescents and adults with mental illness.
AACAP Member Action: Please call your Congressman/Senator and ask them to cosponsor this important legislation! Call 1-202-224-3121 to reach the Capitol Switchboard, and ask for your Representative or Senator’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.
Please contact the AACAP Dept. of Government Affairs at 800.333. 7636, x. 126, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Please let us know when you have contacted your Senator. 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