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Mental Health Parity and Breast Cancer Stamp Bills Approved by House Committee

Mental Health Parity

On October 16, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved, 32-13, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007 (H.R. 1424). The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved the bill on October 10 (see The Source, 10/12/07). The House Ways and Means Committee approved the bill on September 26 (see The Source, 9/28/07); it also was approved by the House Education and Labor Committee on July 18 (see The Source, 7/20/07). The Senate approved its version (S. 558) of the bill on September 18 (see The Source, 9/21/07).

During consideration of the bill, the subcommittee defeated the following amendments:

  • an amendment by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) that would have allowed health insurers to define mental health- or substance abuse-related disorders and would have eliminated the requirement that health plans provide out-of-network coverage for mental health benefits if they also provide such benefits for medical and surgical conditions, 20-33;
  • an amendment by Ranking Member Nathan Deal (R-GA) that would have allowed insurance plans to be in compliance with the bill if they comply with the mental health parity requirements set forth in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, 14-26;
  • an amendment by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) that would have added language stating nothing in the bill should be construed to establish a legal defense for people accused of crimes, including sexual abuse of children, because they suffer from a mental health disorder, by voice vote;
  • a second amendment by Rep. Deal that would have allowed health insurers to apply for a permanent exemption from the mental health and substance abuse parity requirements in the bill if such requirements increase costs by more than two percent in the first year after enactment or one percent in subsequent years, 14-29;
  • an amendment by Rep. Mike Rodgers (R-MI) that would have provided an exception for mental health coverage for any individual who has been convicted of child abuse or criminal activity, 16-23; and
  • a third amendment by Rep. Deal that would have required the secretary of Health and Human Services to evaluate the process by which mental health conditions are selected for inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 16-31.Breast Cancer Stamp

    The same day, the House Energy and Commerce approved, by voice vote, a bill (H.R. 1236) that would allow the U.S. Postal Service to continue issuing a special stamp to raise money for breast cancer research until 2011. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved the bill on October 10 (see The Source, 10/12/07).

    The current authorization (P.L. 109-100) is set to expire on December 31, 2007. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the bill on September 20 (see The Source, 9/21/07). On August 1, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a similar measure that would extend the sale of the postage stamps for two years (see The Source, 8/3/07).

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