This Bill Misses The Point
Insurers and benefit managers, in an attempt to keep a lid on soaring mental health care costs, used to place far more stringent limits on such coverage than those they routinely apply to treatment of non-psychological woes.
Congress tried to redress this injustice by passing the Mental Health Parity Act in 1996. But the law, which limits the restrictions that can be imposed by employers, sunsets on Sept. 30.
In voting to extend the law earlier this month, a Senate committee expanded the law’s scope beyond biologically based disorders to virtually all mental health problems. The new law would also prohibit employers from applying specific limits on cost sharing, number of visits, or days of coverage.
Employer and health insurer groups immediately howled that the new mandates would hike premiums and force firms to limit other benefits or drop mental health coverage altogether to keep group plans affordable.