Action Item: Support the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007

My friend and long-time Shaker Fritz, who also writes On the Fritz, has requested I publish this letter about supporting the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007, which, as of March, is scheduled for debate in this legislative session. The bill, about which you can read more at the National Alliance on Mental Health, has broad bipartisan support, and it could make a very big difference in the lives of those who require treatment for mental illness. The full text of Fritz’s letter, with information on how to take action, is below.

* * *

As someone who suffers from a severe mental illness (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), I would like all of my friends at Shakesville to urge their U.S. Senators to vote YES on S. 558, the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 and to oppose any amendments that would weaken or undermine the bill.

The Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 is sponsored by Senators Pete Domenici, Ted Kennedy, and Mike Enzi and cosponsored by over 50 Senators. In the next few weeks, the full Senate is expected to consider this important piece of legislation that promises to end discriminatory insurance coverage of mental health conditions.

This bill will make a real difference for people like me, who now face discriminatory limitations on the coverage we need to receive treatment for mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. The new law will require full parity for all aspects of health insurance coverage, including day/visit limits, dollar limits, coinsurance, co-payments, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, and it includes parity for substance use disorders and out of network services.

In my case, my current health insurance plan allows me to have only 30 office visits with my psychiatrist. However, typical treatment for my illness requires weekly visits—52 a year or more. That means I must pay for nearly half of my treatment out-of-pocket. That could add up to over $5,000 a year.

Every day, people like me discover that we cannot get the mental health care we need, because our employer provided health insurance sets arbitrary, one-size-fits-all limits on mental health treatment—limits not imposed on other medical or surgical benefits. Can you imagine limiting the number of times a cancer patient can receive chemotherapy?

There is considerable opposition to this legislation coming from wingnut groups like the National Center for Public Policy Research. Of course, they believe that any possible increase in health insurance costs is unreasonable. They ignore the fact that billions of our tax dollars are currently being spent dealing with a myriad of social problems caused by the mentally ill who have no choice but to go untreated.

Please contact your U.S. Senators by visiting this web page. Ask them to vote YES and to encourage their colleagues to do the same.

Fritz Liess

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15 Comments

Filed under 01_shakespeares_sister

15 responses to “Action Item: Support the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007

  1. Can you imagine limiting the number of times a cancer patient can receive chemotherapy?

    Sadly, yes, and anyone who has seen Sicko will know that they can and do limit all kinds of care.

    (That said, as one with a MS in Psychology, I completely support this bill!!)

    ee

  2. Paul the Spud

    You’ve got my support, of course. Thanks for pointing this out, Liss and Fritz.

  3. NameChanged

    I’m from NM, and generally Pete Domenici (R) is an idiotic homophobe, but I support this and I have already sent a message to our other Senator, Jeff Bingaman (D).

  4. Absolutely. Limiting access to treatment for mental illness hurts everyone.

  5. Penny smart and pound foolishness.

  6. Kate217

    Well, don’t you know that, like fat, mental illness is all your fault? If you’d just buckle down and snap the hell out of it, you wouldn’t need to visit the shrink.

    I will never understand how insurance companies managed to convince people that a chemical imbalance in the brain is any less “physiological” than a chemical imbalance in the pancreas. The entire term “mental illness” is a crock.

  7. it’s about time.

  8. A very good cause. Paul Wellstone would be happy. Writing my senators.

  9. Paen

    It’s a disgrace that a society that seems to have lots of money for killing people can’t seem to find any for people suffering from all forms of illness.

  10. Jewel

    As someone with chronic depression who can’t afford therapy, I thank you, Fritz and Melissa, for writing/posting this. I have written to my senators.

  11. Thanks, Liss, and Fritz.

    When I was hospitalized, many years ago, under a mental illness diagnosis, my insurance provider (to whom I’d been paying, privately, over $3000/year) paid $100 of a $14,000 hospital bill — because my diagnosis was mental, not “physical”.

    Acck.

    I am writing my congress-folk tonight.

  12. Jovan1984

    Well, how come they didn’t come up with this bill in 1998? Hopefully, it will, at long last, pass and become law. I ended up not going anywhere after 2003, because I no longer had health insurance until this past May. Thanks for the letter Melissa! 🙂 I really need this bill to become law, as I have moderate to severe depression.

  13. Pingback: Daily Round-Up at Shakesville

  14. keshmeshi

    With more than 50 cosponsors, I’m not too concerned that the bill won’t pass the Senate. If your in the mood for only writing one letter or making one phone call, contact your Congressperson to make sure Congress doesn’t water it down or vote it down.

  15. Pingback: OpenCongress - S.558 - Mental Health Parity Act of 2007

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