MENTAL HEALTH: Federal Court Rules Against Parity
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a District Court judge's dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit brought by a Seattle woman claiming that the reduced mental disability coverage provided by her employer constituted a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plaintiff became unable to work in March 1994 because of severe depression. Her mental disability benefits lasted two years, compared to physical disability benefits, which would have continued until age 65. In the 3-0 ruling, Judge Andrew Kleinfeld said that "insurance distinctions that apply equally to all employees cannot be discriminatory." He noted that the plaintiff's employer, 20th Century Fox Film Corp., offered the same policy to all its employees and was not obligated to treat all disabilities equally. Kleinfeld also said insurers may decide which disabilities to cover, regardless of the ADA (AP/Los Angeles Times, 1/4).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.