Members of the House Education and Labor Committee voted 33-9 Wednesday to go with the House version of a mental health benefits standards bill.
The bill, H.R. 1424, would implement the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, which would set federal standards for employer-sponsored mental health benefits and permit states to set their own, tougher standards.
Many insurance groups, employer groups, provider groups and patient advocacy groups have been backing S. 558, the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007, a bill that would permit states to enforce existing mental benefits standards, but prohibit states from adding new standards that were stricter than the federal standards.
One of the lead sponsors of H.R. 1424 is Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., and one of the lead sponsors of S. 558 is Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Patrick Kennedy’s father.
Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., proposed that the Education and Labor Committee replace language in H.R. 1424 with language from S. 558.
The House panel decided to keep the House language.
“I am grateful my colleagues understand the critical nature of this legislation and after careful review have voted to continue the momentum towards passage,” Patrick Kennedy says in a statement about the committee vote.