June 27, 2004

An Advocate's Opinion: Equitable Treatment Act

The Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act, currently stalled in Congress, is a ticket to mental health parity from health insurers.

The bill would prevent limits on mental-health benefits (such as higher deductibles or higher co-payments for services) that are currently not imposed for physical health conditions.

Janet McCracken is a psychologist at Highland's Association in State College and an associate professor at Penn State. She is of the opinion that such a bill, rather than causing excessive increases in insurance costs, would actually improve the financial situation by relieving the public health sector from providing costly services for the mentally ill whose private insurance benefits have run out.

Her opinion piece in the Centre Daily Times (originally submitted on May 26, 2004) compares the projected increases to health care insurance under full mental-health parity (less than 1% increase in premiums) to the estimated $80 billion current annual loss to our economy in sick leave, unemployment, and lost productivity of the mentally ill.

For Dr. McCracken's complete opinion piece in the Centre Daily Times (www.centredaily.com), please see 'We Can Do More to Help Those with Mental Illness.'

For more information on the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act, and how you can help support its passage by contacting your congress member, see 'Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act of 2003 Introduced' at www.NAMI.org or 'Mental Health Parity Update' at www.dbsalliance.org


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