Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mental Health Bill Update

On March 3, we told you about H.R. 1424, the the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007. This measure passed the House on March 5 by a vote of 268-148.

A Motion to Recommit the bill to committee was offered by Republicans in an effort to amend the bill “forthwith” by replacing it with the bipartisan Senate-passed Mental Health Parity bill (S.558) and clarifying language on abortion-related coverage.

The Senate mental health parity bill does not include any of the references to the DSM-IV that were included in the House bill and removes the employer mandate regarding coverage. Therefore, the Motion to Recommit would resolve concerns regarding conscience protections for employers and health insurance groups.

A conference will be held on both the Senate and House versions in order to resolve differences between the bills. Members must be aware that the language in the House version is dangerous. Not only does it cover such mental disorders as gender identity disorder and pedophilia, but it does not include a conscience clause. Further, abortion proponents have asserted there can be "therapeutic abortions" done to "preserve women's mental health."