Love it or hate it, healthcare reform is here to stay. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) was signed into law by President Obama one week ago today. Over the next few weeks, I plan to highlight sections of the bill that are particularly relevant to people living with a mental illness.
Before I delve into the current legislation, I want to mention a 2008 Act which provides for greater parity in the treatment of mental and physical illnesses.
As part of the 2008 economic bailout, Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. This law requires large group plans that provide mental health benefits to provide these benefits on par with traditional medical benefits. That is, the same deductibles, caps, limits, and out-of-pocket expenses must apply.
The bill was championed for twelve years by senator Pete Domenici (R-AZ) and the late senator Paul Wellstone (R-Minn). Below is a link to a 2008 Time magazine interview in which Domencici discusses passage of the bill.
When Bush signed the bill into law in 2008 I doubt anyone realized just how significant parity would become in light of healthcare reform. Now, not only will millions more Americans soon have health insurance, but they will have insurance that provides adequate coverage for mental illness.