U.S. House bill promises key components for people with mental illness
Online PR News – 30-October-2009 – – On Thursday this week, House Democratic leaders presented a new health care overhaul bill that melds legislation passed by three committees over the summer and makes a series of changes to accommodate lawmakers' concerns. In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is finalizing legislation merging the work of two committees, Finance and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP).
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is now reviewing details of the 1,990 page House bill, but the early indications are that the legislation is extremely positive on a range of top NAMI concerns.
As the debate over health care reform moves towards its final stages, NAMI will continue to advocate for a bill that meets the needs of individuals and families affected by mental illness NAMI will continue efforts to ensure that expanded health coverage for the uninsured and underinsured integrates equitable benefits for mental illness treatment.
An initial review of the House bill (HR 3962) reveals three key components critical to people living with mental illness:
1. Medicaid expansion for childless adults up to 150% of the federal poverty level (about $16,200 in annual income for individual), including individuals living with serious mental illness who currently do not qualify for Medicaid coverage in their state. These individuals are currently more likely to be uninsured and most likely to be without any health care insurance coverage at all. The House bill would insure access to lifesaving medical care for this vulnerable group.
2. Expanded coverage for the uninsured through the new health insurance "Exchange" would be required to have mental health benefits and cover those benefits at parity. This would expand the 2008 federal parity law into the individual and small group market in many states.
3. New protections for individuals that already have insurance coverage or are at risk of losing coverage. Insurance reforms included in the House bill would ensure that people with mental illness could not be denied health insurance benefits on the basis of a preexisting condition or could not be dropped from existing coverage due to their medical condition.
NAMI is encouraging voters to contact the U.S. House of Representatives and ask their Representative to support the HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care of America Act. Representatives can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Learn more by reading NAMI's overall principles for health reform or visit www.nami.org/policy/healthreform for more information.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a non-partisan organization with 1100 state and local affiliates, dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Dedication, steadfast commitment and unceasing belief in NAMI's mission by grassroots advocates have produced profound changes.