America’s Health Insurance Plans is welcoming news that House members voted 376-47 Tuesday to pass H.R. 6983, a House-Senate compromise version of a mental health parity bill.
H.R. 6983, the product of a combination of H.R. 1424 and S. 558, is different from the mental health parity bill under consideration in the Senate, which could jeopardize the chances of a parity bill reaching President Bush.
Health insurers like the current version of the bill better than they liked a version that the House passed in July, according to AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach.
The earlier version would have imposed costly coverage mandates, including many mandates outside the behavioral health field, and it could have hurt health plans’ care management programs, Zirkelbach says.
Health insurers now can charge higher co-payments for mental health care than they charge for other forms of medical care, set lower limits on hospitalization periods for mental health problems, and use other plan design features to pay less for mental health care than they pay for other forms of medical care, according to the American Benefits Council, Washington.
H.R. 6983 prohibits group health plans from imposing different limits on mental health care than they impose on other forms of medical care.