Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after the House passed the Senate’s version of the emergency economic recovery package, which includes the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008:
“The passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 is a long-overdue victory for Americans who suffer from mental illness. Because of the leadership of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who wrote this important bill and shepherded it through his committee, we will ensure that plans covering mental health services cannot provide different financial requirements or treatment limitations than they would for medical or surgical benefits. That means 113 million people across the country – including 82 million individuals enrolled in self-funded plans who cannot be assisted by State parity laws – will have the right to non-discriminatory mental health coverage.
“More than a decade ago, we enacted the landmark 1996 mental health parity law that championed by the late Senator Paul Wellstone and Senator Pete Domenici. Before his untimely death, Paul Wellstone was a tireless and eloquent advocate for legislation that would strengthen the 1996 law and achieve full parity in coverage between mental and physical illnesses.
“The Mental Health Parity Act is the culmination of many years of work to build on and strengthen that 1996 bill, and I encourage the President to sign it as quickly as possible.”