AL GORE: To Call for Mental Health Parity for Children
In a move that is as much about "political positioning as it is about health care policy," Vice President Al Gore is expected today to propose that insurers offer the same level of benefits for children diagnosed with mental illness that they would provide for children afflicted with other disorders, such as cancer or asthma, the Wall Street Journal reports. Gore also plans to emphasize that his proposed $3,000 tax credit for long term care costs also applies to people "debilitated by mental disorders" and that drug plans should cover psychotropic medications. The likely Democratic presidential candidate will unveil a 13-point mental illness proposal today during an appearance in Chevy Chase, Md., with his wife Tipper. While mental health advocates "want the full coverage for adults as well," Gore's move is part of a Clinton administration strategy that has "often expanded coverage first to children in order to build political support for further moves." The administration recently took a similar incremental step when it directed insurers participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to offer mental health parity for federal employees and their families by 2001 -- part of a plan to prove that "mental health coverage can be expanded at an affordable price." National Mental Health Association President Michael Faenza praised Gore's plan, arguing that children with mental illness have been neglected by social policy and insurance plans (Davis/Murray, 5/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.