Federal lawmakers in both Houses of Congress recently approved bipartisan legislation that would expand upon the 1996 Mental Health Parity Act and "require insurance companies to cover mental illnesses and physical illnesses equally," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said in a statement.
The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (H.R. 6983) was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives. In a 93-2 vote, the Senate approved the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 (H.R. 6049), which includes the parity legislation.
Under the Senate bill, which must be approved by the House before it can be sent to the President, parity would be expanded to include deductibles, co-payments, out-of-pocket expenses, co-insurance, covered hospital stays, and covered out-patient visits. Companies with less than 50 employees would be exempt from the parity provisions, according to the bill's sponsors.