House OKs Mental Health Parity Measure

March 6, 2008 ( -The U.S. House of Representatives has approved mental health care benefits parity legislation.

A Business Insurance news report said the House action set up what is expected to be a conflict with the Senate which has already approved a different parity bill (See Mental Health Parity Act Gets Senate Approval ).

The House version, approved 268-148, mandates that group health care plans offer the same coverage for mental disorders as they do for other medical conditions. That requirement would force many employers to upgrade their mental heath benefits coverage since many now limit the number of annual outpatient visits to mental health care providers but do not impose comparable limits for other medical conditions, Business Insurance said.

H.R. 1424, the House measure, would require coverage for all mental health care services listed in the most recent edition of the diagnostic treatment manual published by the American Psychiatric Association. The Senate’s version, however, would let employers decide what conditions would be covered.

The Bush administration says it supports the Senate bill as striking the right balance of expanding coverage without significantly increasing health care costs, according to the news report.