Federal mental health parity measure faces roadblocks

Federal mental health parity legislation--designed to require health plans to cover mental illnesses on an equal basis with physical illnesses--has made meaningful progress of late. However, it's beginning to look as though differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill could stall negotiations and prevent the bill's passage this year. The House bill includes a broader definition of conditions health plans must cover, and would take effect on January 1, 2008, while the Senate bill is more narrowly drawn and would take effect one year after the bill is signed. Not only that, lawmakers estimate that the House bill could generate $4 billion in costs, something they'll have to cover if it moves forward. The House Ways and Means Committee may allocate this funding to offset cuts in physician Medicare reimbursement instead, observers say.

To find out more about the debate:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report item

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