The Senate has passed legislation that would require group health insurance plans to ensure that mental health coverage is equal to physical health coverage when a plan provides for both. Passed with unanimous consent, the bill allows for parity with regard to financial requirements and all treatment limitations. The legislation applies to group health plans with more than 50 employees, while plans with fewer than 50 employees are still subject to state law.
This bill represents a major breakthrough for those with mental health needs, ensuring their access to fair and equitable health insurance, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said in a news release. Kennedy and Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) are co-sponsors of the bill.
Americas Health Insurance Plans issued a statement commending the Senate on the bill, saying the bipartisan legislation will meet the needs of patients who have behavioral health and substance-abuse problems.
This bill provides coverage for persons with mental illness without undermining innovations in behavioral health services or imposing costs on employers that would make it difficult for them to continue to offer other health benefits, AHIP President Karen Ignagni said in the statement. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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