Mental Health Parity Legislation Included In Government Bailout Package

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Mental Health Parity Legislation Included In Government Bailout Package

In addition to provisions allowing the federal government to provide stability by purchasing and insuring troubled assets, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 also included mental health parity legislation that has been a priority of some lawmakers for over a decade.

The House and Senate both passed different versions of mental health parity legislation earlier this year, with the White House expressing support for the Senate bill in March. Supporters of the legislation forged a compromise between the chambers on issues of required coverage for certain conditions and out-of-network treatment over the summer. Congressional leaders included the mental health parity proposal in a revised version of the bailout measure (H.R. 1424) after an earlier bailout package failed to pass the House on Sept. 29.

The Senate passed the revised version of the economic bailout package that included the mental health parity provisions on Oct. 1 by a vote of 74-25. The House followed and passed the legislation 263-171 on Oct. 3. President Bush signed the measure into Public Law No: 110-343 on Oct. 3.

The bipartisan mental health parity legislation has been a long-standing goal for lawmakers in both chambers. The measure stipulates that the financial requirements and treatment limitations of insurers are to be no more restrictive for mental health conditions than for physical health conditions. For example, deductibles and out-of-pocket payments as well as limits on frequency of treatment would have to be the same.

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