MENTAL HEALTH PARITY: San Jose Mercury News Says It Makes Economic Sense
An editorial in today's San Jose Mercury News comes out in favor of AB 1100, legislation that would require equal health insurance coverage for mental and physical conditions. The editorial notes that a recently released National Institute of Mental Health study found "that requiring health insurers to cover mental health for patients in managed care systems causes total expenses to rise less than 1 percent." Contending that AB 1100 "is no bank-buster," the Mercury News points out that the bill only "requires parity for biologically-based mental ailments ... diseases [that] have been shown to respond well to medication." In addition, the editorial points out that the bill "does not establish levels of coverage which all insurers must offer -- it just mandates equality within each plan."
Is A Compromise In The Works?
The Mercury News notes that AB 1100's sponsors -- Assembly members Helen Thomson (D-Davis) and Don Perata (D-Alameda) "are engaged in negotiations with Gov. Pete Wilson to get him on board." Though the governor has said he will veto the bill in its current form, Thomson "said negotiations with Wilson over inpatient care limits show promise of saving the legislation." Overall, the editorial calls the bill "an anti-discrimination measure," concluding: "Anyone who has dealt with mental illnesses knows what national and international studies also show: These diseases are a terrific drain on productivity. ... Thanks to the NIMH survey of experience in states that already require parity for mental health, we know that equitable insurance is not only the right thing to do, it's the economical thing to do" (7/24). Click Mental Health Parity to read past California Healthline coverage of AB 1100.