This week Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN) introduced in the House of Representatives a version of the federal mental health parity act. Last month I posted about the Senate version of the act passing that body’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee by an 18-3 vote. You can read about the House version of the bill here at Representative Patrick Kennedy’s website. That website also provides a summary of the bill. Plan Sponsor notes the two primary differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill are that the House version would not preempt state mental health parity laws that establish more favorable consumer features. In other words, the House version of the act sets a floor below which insurers may not descend in providing mental healthcare coverage but does not establish a ceiling for additional requirements states may impose on insurers. The second difference is that the House version requires employers to provide the same coverage for mental health disorders as insurers providing coverage to members of Congress. Conversely, the Senate bill gives greater flexibility to insurers to design coverage for mental healthcare.
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