Green Calls for Mental Health Insurance Parity
July 23, 2002
Washington, DC - Rep. Gene Green today called for the health insurance industry to provide mental health insurance parity for its customers in a meeting of the Energy and Commerce Committees subcommittee on Health. Currently, an estimated 87 percent of health plans force patients to pay more for mental health care or put stricter limits on mental health coverage than on other health treatment.
We have come so far in our understanding and treatment of mental illness, said Green. It is time for our insurance system to catch up with the times and start treating mental illness with the same attitude and policies that it treats all other illnesses.
Rep. Green is an original cosponsor of HR 4066 introduced by Rep. Marge Roukema (R-NJ). The legislation would prohibit certain employee group health plans that offer both medical-surgical and mental health benefits from imposing limitations on mental health coverage.
Untreated mental illness costs American businesses $70 billion each year in lost productivity, said Green. The barriers we have for treatment are counterproductive. Study after study have shown that mental health treatment works.
The Houston Texans football team announced today that they have established mental health parity for their staff, becoming the first National Football League franchise to do so. Other Houston area companies, including Ocean Energy, Inc., Weingarten Realty Investors, and The Houston Chronicle have also established mental health parity. However, it is not a common practice among American businesses.
Ocean Energy Chairman James T. Hackett testified before the subcommittee today. He stated that his company voluntarily established full parity in mental health coverage for its workers and that providing mental health benefits on par with medical and surgical is good for the bottom line.
If employers and insurers acted as these organizations have, there would be no need to introduce legislation, added Green. I am pleased that the Texans and other Houston companies are leading the way in this fight.
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