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Senate Passes SHRM-Friendly Mental Health Parity Bill

   11/16/2007
 
  HR Issues Update

Legislative Issues

Senate Passes SHRM-Friendly Mental Health Parity Bill

If your organization's health care plan includes mental health coverage, you may need to ensure "parity" between your medical/surgical benefits and mental health benefits if the Mental Health Parity Act becomes law this year. And Congressional approval looks more and more likely.

Earlier this week, the Senate unanimously approved the Mental Health Parity Act (S. 558), which would require group health care plans to ensure that the financial requirements (deductibles, co-insurance, out-of-pocket expenses) and treatment limitations (frequency of treatment, number of visits, days of coverage) applied to mental health benefits are no more restrictive than the financial requirements and treatment limitations applied to all medical and surgical benefits.

For several years, Congress has debated expanding the 1996 Mental Health Parity Act to require plans to meet additional parity provisions. In the past, these efforts have been unsuccessful because several groups (including SHRM) have voiced concerns about the impact an expansion would have on employer health care costs. However, last year, key members of the U.S. Senate reached out to all interested parties on this issue and drafted compromise legislation that addresses most of these concerns.

The issue now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives, where a significantly broader and more expensive bill (H.R. 1424), sponsored by Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN), is pending. Watch for developments with this legislation in future issues of HR Issues Update.

IN THIS ISSUE . . .
The next issue of HR Issues Update will
be published on Friday, October 5, 2007 2007.

 


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