Mental health parity bill moves ahead

After a year of back-and-forth, a group of U.S. senators have reached a compromise on a bill offering "mental health parity" to health plan enrollees who have mental health coverage. While the details are still under discussion, generally speaking the bill would require health insurance plans with a mental health option to cover mental diseases the same way they do physical diseases, including reimbursement, co-payments, deductibles and limits on physician visits. The bill is being championed by Sen. Pete Domenici, who has worked on this issue since 1996, and co-written with Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY). Creating a workable consensus proposal took years, but everyone involved seems to think the measure can move ahead now. Though health plans argue that such parity would be too costly to sustain, President Bush has previously expressed a willingness so sign a parity bill, so the measure's prospects may be better than many previous versions.

To learn more about the bill:
- read this article from The Hill
see this piece from Medical News Today

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