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Eagle Forum Alert
March 4, 2008

UPDATE! The Paul Wellstone Mental Health bill (H.R. 1424) was used as the vehicle for the economic rescue bill, known as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. The bill was signed into law by President Bush on October 3, 2008. This massive piece of legislation also included the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, the Tax Extenders, and the Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008.
UPDATE! On March 5th House Republicans offered a Motion to Recommit (MTR) H.R. 1424, The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, which would have amended the bill "forthwith" by replacing it with the bipartisan Senate-passed Mental Health Parity bill (S. 558) and clarifying language on abortion-related coverage. The Senate bill does not include any of the references to the DSM-IV that were included in the House bill. The MTR would have removed the employer mandate regarding coverage, resolved concerns regarding conscience protections for employers and health insurance groups, and also would have clarified that employers are not required to pay for an abortion as "treatment" under this bill. Unfortunately, the MTR failed by a vote of 196 to 221, and the bill was agreed to on final passage by a vote of 268 to 148.
House Attempts to Expand List of
"Mental Disorders" Covered by Employers

Urge your Representative to Vote NO on the Mental Health Equity Act!

Most Americans probably hear the phrase "more affordable health care" roll off the lips of certain presidential candidates on a daily basis, so why are Members of Congress trying to pass a bill that they claim would "increase coverage," but would actually make it more expensive?

This Wednesday, March 5th, the House is scheduled to vote on the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007 (H.R. 1424). Introduced by Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), H.R. 1424 would impose federal mandates on both private insurance companies and on employers who choose to offer mental health coverage as part of their group health insurance plans. The bill would incorporate into federal statute the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as the basis for which group health plans offer coverage for mental health conditions. The DSM-IV classifies a variety of mental disorders. The following is just a sampling of those diagnoses for which employers would be mandated to provide benefits: nightmare disorder, caffeine-induced sleep disorder, caffeine intoxication, sibling relational problems, academic problems, substance-induced sexual dysfunction, and pedophilia.

Other problems with H.R. 1424:

  • Increases the cost of Health Insurance. CBO estimates that this bill will impose mandates on private companies totaling $3 billion a year by 2012. By increasing the cost of coverage, the risk of greater numbers of uninsured Americans rises, as some employers may decide to drop group health insurance coverage altogether or not offer mental health coverage at all in order to avoid conflicting with strict state regulations.

  • Codifies a Treatment Mandate. Incorporating the DSM-IV list of mental disorders into federal law will obligate employers to cover "disorders" such as "jet lag," "caffeine intoxication," and "transvestic fetishism."

  • Does not contain a "conscience clause." The bill does not contain an exemption for health insurance groups or businesses to exclude coverage of disorders for which they have a religious or moral objection, e.g. pedophilia.

H.R. 1424 was placed on the suspension calendar, which means that no amendments may be offered and a two-thirds majority is necessary for passage. Currently, the bill has 273 cosponsors, so it is clear that the bill has close to two-thirds support. View the list of co-sponsors. Call your Representative today and tell them you have major objections to this bill!

Take Action

Urge your Representative to vote NO on H.R. 1424 today!

Call Your Representatives Today!

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