Washington, D.C., September 24, 2008
– The American Public Health Association (APHA) praises congressional passage of legislation that will require health insurers to provide the same level of coverage for mental illness and substance abuse as they do for physical illness.
“This long-overdue legislation will not only benefit the millions suffering from mental illness and addiction by making it easier for them to access care, but will also make great strides in reducing the stigma and discrimination they experience,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “We urge members of the House and Senate to work quickly to send a bill to the president before they adjourn for the year.”
According the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in four adults in the United States suffers from a mental health disorder in a given year. Those attempting to seek care are often unable to do so due to the higher co-payments and stricter limits on mental health benefits put in place by most insurers. The new legislation eliminates these obstacles and will make it easier for millions of people to seek the care they need.
The legislation came in the form of two separate bills, with the House passing a stand-alone mental health parity bill and the Senate passing it as part of the tax extenders bill. APHA urges the two chambers to work together to reach agreement on the final outstanding issue of how to offset the new costs.