House Extends Mental Health Parity Law

November 15, 2002 ( - The US House of Representatives passed a bill to extend for a year a federal law mandating employers and health insurers to offer equal coverage for mental health claims.

The bill (HR 5716), authored by Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio), now sets the mental health parity law to expire December 31, 2003 for ERISA-covered health plans.

“We will continue to examine the issue of mental health parity in a balanced manner that doesn’t jeopardize workers’ existing health-care benefits or discourage employers from voluntarily providing quality benefits to their employees,” Boehner said in a news release. Boehner chairs the House Education & the Workforce Committee.

In 1996, Congress enacted the Mental Health Parity Act to prevent employers and health insurers from establishing annual and lifetime limits on health insurance coverage for mental health benefits unless similar limits were also established for medical and surgical health coverage.