Skip to comments.House-Senate Pact Reached On Mental-Health Bill
Posted on 07/12/2008 5:37:33 AM PDT by shrinkermd
The House and Senate reached agreement on a policy framework for legislation that would require employers and health insurers to put mental-health coverage on par with that for physical maladies.
Details of the agreement are expected to be set this week, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers is seeking funding for the measure, which would cost the government an estimated $1.3 billion over five years and $3.4 billion over 10 years, mainly because of lost tax revenue.
Leading lawmakers such as Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Mass.) hope to push the bill through Congress and send it to the White House by the end of July. A White House spokesman declined to comment on the compromise without seeing details. The administration has said it supports the Senate bill but opposes the House bill; the compromise has elements of both.
"Today, Congress is one step closer to bringing dramatic new help to millions who are denied mental health care and treatment," said Anthony Coley, a spokesman for Sen. Kennedy, a sponsor of the Senate bill who was instrumental in the compromise.
The legislation, which has broad bipartisan backing, has support among business groups, insurance companies and mental-health advocates. Supporters say the legislation, more than 15 years in the making, would affect the mental-health coverage of 113 million people, including 82 million people in federally regulated plans funded by employers and 31 million people in state-regulated plans.
Under the agreement, employers offering mental-health coverage must make it on par with with medical and surgical benefits. That includes treatments such as hospital stays and doctor visits, and cost-sharing such as co-payments, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. If a plan offers medical coverage for treatment outside of its provider network, it must do so in mental health, as well.
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I once capitated several large insurance companies for mental health services. I found there was really no way to control costs without Draconian efforts at copays and limitation of benefits.
The problem is a minority run up costs on frivolous and not so frivolous needs. A host of providers--medical and nonmedical--await with plans to "do good" by delivering more and better mental health services.
The upshot is, without cost control, a spirally increase in costs that must be borne by the young, physicially and mentally well. This results in premium costs that price out these very people.
Those that support this proposal should enjoy their feeling of moral superiority while they can still afford it. In the final analysis efforts such as this merely shift escelating costs around. Paying for these services is never popular and the providers--now so supportive--will soon find they are eventually seen as greedy villains who need careful control.
Senator Kennedy, will alcoholism be considered a mental disorder, and is that not the reason you are pushing the bill?
If there is one thing congress should know about, it is mental health. lol!
Mental illness is a chronic, permanently debilitating cluster of symptoms that soaks up HUGE amounts of resources to treat properly. Think in terms of cancer, but the afflicted never dies and is only sporadically spared the effects of the illness.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
But why is it up to the government to dictate any type of coverage
That’s why health care is so expensive; people should be able to choose what coverage they want to pay for.