WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced a resolution recognizing the 10th anniversary of the enactment of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). The MHPAEA ensured the same access to mental health or substance use disorder benefits as medical or surgical benefits. This legislation greatly expanded Americans’ access to treatment for mental illness and substance use disorder.
“Senators Wellstone and Domenici worked to ensure access to mental health treatment,” Dr. Cassidy said. “Passing the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 continued this bipartisan effort to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness and increase access to treatment.”
“Paul Wellstone was a crusader, an inspiration and a friend. He was a passionate champion for those suffering from mental illness, always fighting for better care, better services and better representation for patients. In 2008, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was enacted and named in his honor, finally bringing mental health parity to health insurance coverage,” Klobuchar said. “With this resolution, we honor Paul’s legacy and this landmark legislation that has changed the lives of millions of Americans living with mental illness who faced unfair discrimination in their access to affordable health care treatment.”
The bipartisan resolution is cosponsored by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Tom Carper (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Ben Cardin (D-MD).
The full text of the resolution can be found below:
Recognizing the tenth anniversary of the enactment of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.
Whereas, on October 3, 2008, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (subtitle B of title V of Public Law 110–343) (referred to in this preamble as the “MHPAEA”) was signed into law;
Whereas the MHPAEA ensures that employer-based group health plans and group and individual health insurance issuers that provide mental health or substance use disorder coverage do not impose less favorable limitations on mental health or substance abuse use disorder benefits than on medical or surgical benefits;
Whereas parity protections have been found to decrease out-of-pocket costs for mental health and substance use disorder services;
Whereas, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2017, 18,200,000 individuals in the United States ages 12 and older needed substance use treatment but did not receive specialty treatment in the past year;
Whereas, in the United States in 2017, an estimated 2 out of 5 adults with any mental illness and 1/2 of adults with serious mental illness who had unmet needs for mental health services did not receive treatment because those individuals could not afford the cost of care; and
Whereas parity in insurance coverage for behavioral health services consistent with the requirements of the MHPAEA can provide access to life-saving treatment and services:
Now, therefore be it Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) commemorates October 3, 2018, as the tenth anniversary of the enactment of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (subtitle B of title V of Public Law 110–343);
(2) declares access to behavioral health services a priority; and
(3) supports enforcement of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 to protect individuals in the United States who are in need of access to insurance coverage for behavioral health services.