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Public Statements

Mental Health Benefits Parity Extension

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS PARITY EXTENSION -- (House of Representatives - December 17, 2005)

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, the bill will extend provisions under ERISA, the Public Health Services Act and the Internal Revenue Code regarding mental health parity for 1 year until December 31, 2006.

Committee on Education and the Workforce, House of Representatives,

Washington, DC, December 17, 2005.
The Hon. JOE BARTON,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN BARTON: I write regarding our mutual understanding for the consideration of H.R. 4579, a bill amending the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to extend certain provisions on mental health benefits. The provisions of this bill amending ERISA are within the sole jurisdiction of the Committee on Education and the Workforce. The provisions of this bill amending PHSA are within the sole jurisdiction of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The provisions of this bill amending IRC are within the sole jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means.

As you and I understand the importance of extending the provisions to each of these Acts, we have agreed to the scheduling of this bill for consideration in the House of Representatives. However, I agree that we have done so only with the understanding that this procedural route should not be construed to prejudice the jurisdictional interest and prerogatives of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Committee on Ways and Means, or the Committee on Energy and Commerce, respectively, on these provisions or any other similar legislation, and will not be considered as precedent for consideration of matters of jurisdiction to each committee in the future. Finally, I would support your request for appointment of conferees on the provisions in your Committee's jurisdiction should a conference arise with the Senate.

A copy of our exchange of letters will be inserted in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD on this bill. Thank you for your consideration and cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

JOHN A. BOEHNER,
Chairman.

Committee on Education and the Workforce, House of Representatives,

Washington, DC, December 17, 2005.
The Hon. Bill Thomas,
Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN THOMAS: I write regarding our mutual understanding for the consideration of H.R. 4579, a bill amending the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to extend certain provisions on mental health benefits. The provisions of this bill amending ERISA are within the sole jurisdiction of the Committee on Education and the Workforce. The provisions of this bill amending PHSA are within the sole jurisdiction of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The provisions of this bill amending IRC are within the sole jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means.

As you and I understand the importance of extending the provisions to each of these Acts, we have agreed to the scheduling of this bill for consideration in the House of Representatives. However, I agree that we have done so only with the understanding that this procedural route should not be construed to prejudice the jurisdictional interest and prerogatives of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Committee on Ways and Means, or the Committee on Energy and Commerce, respectively, on these provisions or any other similar legislation, and will not be considered as precedent for consideration of matters of jurisdiction to each committee in the future. Finally, I would support your request for appointment of conferees on the provisions in your Committee's jurisdiction should a conference arise with the Senate.

A copy of our exchange of letters will be inserted in the Congressional Record on this bill. Thank you for your consideration and cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

JOHN A. BOEHNER,
Chairman.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS,

Washington, DC., December 17, 2005.
Hon. JOHN A. BOEHNER,
Chairman, Committee on Education and the Workforce, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN BOEHNER: I am writing concerning H.R. 4579, a bill ``To amend title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act, and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend by one year provisions requiring parity in the application of certain limits to mental health benefits,'' which was introduced on December 16, 2005, and referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means.

As you know, the Committee on Ways and Means has jurisdiction over matters concerning the Internal Revenue Code. Section 1 of H.R. 4579 amends Section 9812(f)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 providing for an extension of parity in the application of certain limits to mental health benefits, and thus falls within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means. However, in order to expedite this legislation for floor consideration, the Committee will forgo action on this bill. This is being done with the understanding that it does not in any way prejudice the Committee with respect to the appointment of conferees or its jurisdictional prerogatives on this or similar legislation.

I would appreciate your response to this letter, confirming this understanding with respect to H.R. 4579, and would ask that a copy of our exchange of letters on this matter be included in the Congressional Record during floor consideration.

Best regards,

Bill Thomas,
Chairman.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Rhode Island for his moving testimony today on the issue of mental health. I would be the first to agree that the mental health parity bill that we have will now, as Mr. George Miller of California says, and has for the last 10 years been an important step in the right direction.

Is it enough for most people? Probably not. And I think that all of us are aware that Congress and the American people have been in this debate for a long time. We have 45 million Americans who have no health insurance at all, and we know that every time we mandate a benefit on employers' insurance policies, we raise the cost of those policies. And what is the result of higher health insurance policies? More uninsured Americans.

So there is a balance, and I realize that people want more mental health coverage. The debate will continue here in the Congress; but in the meantime, I think it is important for us to make sure that the mandate that is in the current law that does provide some coverage for mental health illness that is going to expire will do so unless we extend this provision. And that is all the bill before us does is extend the provisions already in law to make sure that at least there is a foundation of coverage in the law as people have come to expect.

http://thomas.loc.gov/

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