Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kennedy’s mental-health bill on fast track

Rep. Patrick
J. Kennedy’s signature mental-health bill has found a legislative
that could speed its progress through the Senate, where the
measure has been on hold for weeks.

The chairman of the
tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.,
announced Friday that he has added the mental-health parity bill to a
package of tax-relief measures likely to receive full Senate
consideration soon.

Rhode Island Democrat Kennedy and Rep. Jim
Ramstad, R-Minn., are the principal House sponsors of a bill that would
require insurance companies to cover mental-health insurance claims on
an equal footing with claims for the treatment of physical ailments or
injuries — hence the term “parity.”

The two men fashioned their
bill after a series of hearings around the country last year. They
dramatized their drive for parity by highlighting their personal
experiences in recovery — from mental illness, drug addiction and
alcoholism in Kennedy’s case, and from alcoholism in Ramstad’s.

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