House Passes Mental Health 'Parity' Bill

Requires comparable insurance coverage for illnesses of body, mind
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2008 3:00 AM CST
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter, center, flanked by Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, participates in rally on the Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The House has passed a bill requiring most group health insurers to provide comparable coverage for treatment of mental illness and addiction as they do for physical illness, the New York Times reports. "Illness of the brain must be treated just like illness anywhere else in the body," said one lawmaker. Supporters of the bill have been trying to get it passed for more than a decade.

Current law allows insurers to set higher co-payments or stricter limits on mental health benefits. A new law could provide significant aid to many of the 35 million Americans who suffer from mental health problems, according to experts. Many insurers and employers, as well as the White House, prefer the narrower version of the parity bill already passed by the Senate. A committee will now have to iron out the differences between the two.