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Senator Klobuchar Applauds Senate Passage of Mental Health Parity Act

Press Release

Date: Sept. 18, 2007
Location: Washington, DC

Senator Klobuchar Applauds Senate Passage of Mental Health Parity Act

Tonight, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar applauded Senate passage of the Mental Health Parity Act, S. 558, to provide fair and equal access for mental health and chemical dependency treatment. Currently, most health care plans have barriers to mental health and chemical dependency treatment. This legislation would help lower co-payments and deductibles and arbitrary limits on number of office visits or inpatient days covered for such visits.

Klobuchar was a co-sponsor of the bill.

"I am proud to support this step toward fulfilling the hopes of Paul and Sheila Wellstone and so many others who have championed this issue," said Klobuchar. "Receiving medical treatment is a life-or-death issue for the 54 million Americans with mental illness. This legislation can relieve unnecessary suffering and even save lives by guaranteeing people fair and equal access to the mental health and chemical dependency treatment they need."

The bill passed by the Senate is a pragmatic reform supported by mental health advocates, practitioners, businesses and insurers, building upon the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996. The legislation would:

• Require that insurance plans offer cost-sharing equal to physical and surgical procedures.
• End discriminatory policies that limit patients' treatment access.
• Include an exemption for small businesses with up to 50 employees.
• Protect businesses that incur a cost increase of 2% in the first year and 1% in the following year from parity requirements.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously tonight.