Senate Approves Mental Health Benefits Parity Bill

October 31, 2001( - The Senate, on a voice vote, agreed to bar group health insurance plans from placing more restrictions on mental health benefits than on medical and surgical coverage, by expanding a 1996 law

The amendment, part of a $396 billion bill for labor, health and education programs the Senate was considering, would require insurers to offer the same financial terms and conditions for mental illnesses than they do for medical illnesses.

The amendment, co-sponsored by Senator Paul Wellstone (D ? Minnesota) and Senator Pete Domenici (R – New Mexico), would apply to plans that already provide mental health benefits and only apply to companies with more than 50 employees.

At present, there is no similar bill in the House of Representatives, but senators hope to keep their measure in the final labor-health-education spending bill when it is completed in a House-Senate conference.

– Camilla Klein