Wednesday, 01 February 2023

Thompson calls for equal treatment of mental illness

WASHINGTON Rep. Mike Thompson joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Leadership outside the Capitol last week to raise awareness of the treatment barriers facing mental health patients.


According to the Government Accountability Office, 90 percent of health insurance plans impose financial limitations and treatment restrictions on mental health and addiction benefits.


In response, Thompson has co-authored the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addition Equity Act (H.R. 1424). This bill requires all insurers that offer mental health care to provide the same level of benefits as they would for any other medical condition.


"Mental illness and addiction are diseases like any other," said Thompson. "It is unconscionable that people suffering from these sometimes life-threatening diseases are discriminated against when they ask for help."


Currently, health insurers are allowed to offer mental health benefits that differ significantly from the medical and surgical benefits offered under the same plan. As a result, beneficiaries often pay more for these services and are eligible to use fewer of them.


The Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act requires any insurer choosing to provide mental health benefits to equalize the financial requirements and treatment limits in comparison to other benefits.


"There are already so many barriers for people with mental health problems, from the stigma associated with it to a nationwide shortage of providers," said Thompson. "This bill will make sure that health insurance is not one of them. It's time we leveled the playing field in the treatment of mental health. Millions of Americans are depending on it."


A majority of respondents to a National Mental Health Association survey indicated that they would support parity legislation even if it meant a $1 per month increase to their premiums. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that such legislation will increase healthcare costs less than that amount.


H.R. 1424 was introduced by Reps. Patrick Kennedy and Jim Ramstad and co-authored by Thompson on March 7.


The bill is cosponsored by a bipartisan majority of 265 Members of Congress.


For more information on Thompson's legislation, visit his Web site, http://mikethompson.house.gov/.


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