Two days ago, I got an email from one of those psychiatric organizations I belong to. The Senate would be voting on the Wellstone Mental Health Parity bill. Huh, I thought, isn't the country in a financial crisis, isn't the Senate supposed to be addressing the issue of whether to 'bail out' the disaster on Wall Street? Some 700 billion dollar problem? Mental health parity is nice, but why on this particular day.
In the middle of the day, I got a romantic text message from hubby: The Senate is rolling mental health parity snuck into the bailout package.
The Wall Street Journal Health blog has a piece about it-- it's short, so I'll copy it here:
Senate Folds Mental Health Parity Into Wall Street Bailout Bill
For those Health Blog readers who didn’t manage to read every line of the ballyhooed bailout bill the Senate passed last night, allow us to direct your attention to page 310 (Title V, Subtitle B), home to the “Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.”
What’s a mental health bill doing in a piece of legislation designed to grease the gears of global finance? Turns out, it’s just a bit of Congressional housekeeping.
The Senate and the House both passed the mental health bill last week. The bill requires mid-sized and large businesses that offer mental health coverage to provide benefits that are comparable to the benefits provided for physical ailments. It was a compromise years in the making, and drew broad support.
The bill passed the House as a standalone measure but was folded in with other legislation in the Senate; in order to send the bill off to the President (who supports the bill), both houses have to pass it in identical form.
Enter the bailout bill. It could be the last major piece of legislation passed by Congress this year, the AP says. And it gives Congress a chance to get the mental health parity bill on the President’s desk to be signed into law — provided the House of Representatives passes the bailout bill this time around. House leaders are cautiously optimistic that the bill will go through, but they’re not making any promises, the WSJ reports.
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