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Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008

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Location: Washington, DC


PAUL WELLSTONE AND PETE DOMENICI MENTAL HEALTH PARITY AND ADDICTION EQUITY ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - September 23, 2008)

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 1/2 minutes.

Mr. Speaker, the person who is being helped and touched by this bill is someone we all know. He is a person who comes home from work and is confronted with the heartache that his son or daughter is dealing with the ravages of clinical depression. And they are worried about it, but they feel secure because they say at least we are insured. At least we can take care of her.

Then they find out that there is a $10,000 deductible before the insurance company will pay for the visits. Or they find out there is a $5,000 limit on how much care can be received.

If their daughter had broken her knee, there would be a $100 deductible and no limit on the care. But because she is dealing with clinical depression or a substance abuse problem or another mental illness, they are conscripted and limited. This person is who will be helped by the efforts of Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Ramstad.

This bill is long overdue, and it will save the system money. More importantly, it will bring justice and fairness to people like the family I talked about in these remarks here today.

I congratulate Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Ramstad on bringing together this broad coalition. I urge both Republicans and Democrats to vote ``yes'' on this worthy legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I rise for the purpose of a colloquy with the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Andrews).

Mr. Andrews, I rise today in favor of a health care system that works for those in need. I am proud that this legislation promotes fairness for those with mental illness. I am also proud that it will not preempt stronger State laws, laws such as Pennsylvania Act 106 which has saved countless lives in our Commonwealth.

I stand with a leading Republican State representative from my district, Gene DiGirolamo, a leading advocate for mental health parity and someone who has worked tirelessly for health care laws that are fair and just.

Mr. Andrews, just to clarify, does the parity legislation leave intact Pennsylvania's Act 106 protections for those seeking treatment of substance abuse and similar protections in other States?

Mr. ANDREWS. If the gentleman will yield, that is correct. This bill will not preempt in any way the services and benefits provided to citizens of Pennsylvania Act 106 and similar legislation in other States. Some examples of the types of State laws that are not preempted by this bill include State laws that mandate minimum coverage, State laws that control access to benefits, and State laws that require access to out-of-network providers.

Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. I thank the gentleman from New Jersey, and I urge my colleagues to vote in support of this bill.

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