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S. HRG. 107-184
ACHIEVING PARITY FOR MENTAL HEALTH
COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, EDUCATION,
LABOR, AND PENSIONS
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
EXAMINING MENTAL HEALTH AND OUR ONGOING BATTLE TO SEE
THAT THOSE SUFFERING FROM MENTAL ILLNESSES RECEIVE THE
JULY 11, 2001
Printed for the use of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 2001
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Fax: (202) 512–2250 Mail: Stop SSOP, Washington, DC 20402–0001
COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, EDUCATION, LABOR, AND PENSIONS
EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts, Chairman CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, Connecticut JUDD GREGG, New Hampshire TOM HARKIN, Iowa
BILL FRIST, ennessee BARBARA A. MIKULSKI, Maryland
MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming JAMES M. JEFFORDS (I), Vermont
TIM HUTCHINSON, Arkansas JEFF BINGAMAN, New Mexico
JOHN W. WARNER, Virginia PAUL D. WELLSTONE, Minnesota
CHRISTOPHER S. BOND, Missouri PATTY MURRAY, Washington
PAT ROBERTS, Kansas JACK REED, Rhode Island
SUSAN M. COLLINS, Maine JOHN EDWARDS, North Carolina
JEFF SESSIONS, Alabama
J. MICHAEL MYERS, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
William E. Flynn, III
Henry Harbin, M.D.
Darrel Regier, M.D.
American Association For Geriatric Psychiatry
National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems
Stanford J. Alexander
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Psychological Association
ACHIEVING PARITY FOR MENTAL HEALTH
WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2001
U.S. SENATE, COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, EDUCATION, LABOR, AND PENSIONS,
Washington, DC. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:02 a.m., in room SD-430, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senator Kennedy (chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Senators Kennedy, Dodd, Wellstone, Murray, Reed, Clinton, Gregg, Frist, Roberts, Collins, and Jeffords.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR KENNEDY The CHAIRMAN. We will come to order, if we could, please. This is an extremely important hearing and we have some very significant witnesses and commentators on this issue, and we are looking forward to the hearing very much.
I want to welcome all of you to this hearing on mental health and our ongoing battle to see that those suffering from mental illnesses receive the services they need and to provide parity in coverage of mental health services. I particularly commend Senator Wellstone and Senator Domenici for their longstanding commitment and their leadership, not only in the Congress but nationally, in seeing that all Americans have access to mental health services.
Mental health parity is one of the most important civil rights issues facing the Nation. For too long, persons living with mental disorders have suffered discriminatory treatment from insurers. They have been forced to pay more for the services they need, have faced harsher limitations on treatment, and have been denied access to the best service providers.
The failure to get treatment for a patient can mean years of shattered dreams and unfulfilled potential. Americans with mental illnesses deserve heath and happiness, too, just as those who face physical illnesses.
The 1996 Mental Health Parity Act was a good first step in ending this blatantly unfair treatment, but it did not go far enough. It left too many loopholes and too many opportunities for continued discrimination. Needed new legislation, the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act, will close these loopholes and guarantee equal coverage for both physical and mental illnesses.
Our proposed legislation prohibits group health plans from imposing treatment limitations or financial requirements on the coverage of mental health conditions that do not also apply to physical