EMERGENCY ECONOMIC STABILIZATION ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - October 03, 2008)
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Mr. RAMSTAD. Madam Speaker, it was an amazing turn of events that made the treatment parity legislation Patrick Kennedy and I introduced, H.R. 1424, the vehicle for one of the most far-reaching bills considered in our lifetime.
This legislation is a rescue bill for the U.S. economy and a rescue bill for the millions of Americans suffering from mental illness and addiction. It will also prevent a devastating tax increase on middle-income families and job creators at a time our families and economy cannot afford more blows.
This vote will mean the end of 12 long years of fighting for treatment parity for mental illness and addiction. This is not just another public policy issue: It's a matter of life or death for 54 million Americans suffering the ravages of mental illness and 26 million suffering from chemical addiction.
Last year alone, more than 30,000 Americans committed suicide from untreated depression and 150,000 Americans died as the direct result of chemical addiction. On top of the tragic loss of lives, untreated addiction and mental illness cost our economy over $550 billion a year.
I'm alive and sober today only because of the access I had to treatment following my last alcoholic blackout on July 31, 1981, when I woke up in a jail cell in Sioux Falls, SD. I'm living proof that treatment works and recovery is possible.
But far too many people in our country don't have the same access to treatment that I and other Members of Congress have had.
A major barrier for thousands of Americans is insurance discrimination against people in health plans who need treatment for mental illness or chemical addiction.
The legislation we are passing today will end this discrimination by prohibiting health insurers from placing discriminatory restrictions on treatment for people with mental illness or addiction.
No more inflated deductibles or copayments that don't apply to physical diseases.
No more limited treatment stays that don't apply to physical diseases.
No more discrimination against people with mental illness or chemical addiction.
The ``Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act'' simply provides equal treatment for diseases of the brain and the body.
Providing treatment equity is not only the right thing to do; it's also the cost-effective thing to do.
All the empirical data, including major actuarial studies, show that equity for mental health and addiction treatment will save literally billions of dollars nationally. At the same time, it will not raise premiums more than two- tenths of 1 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
In other words, for less than the price of a cheap cup of coffee per month, millions of people could receive treatment for chemical addiction and mental illness.
Madam Speaker, Rep. Patrick Kennedy and I have traveled the country from one end to the other--holding 14 field hearings on the critical need for treatment parity.
We heard literally hundreds of stories of human suffering, broken families, tragic deaths, ruined careers and shattered dreams--all because of insurance companies not providing access to adequate treatment for mental illness and addiction. We will change that today.
Madam Speaker, it's time to end the discrimination against people who need treatment for mental illness and addiction. It's time to prohibit health insurers from placing discriminatory barriers to treatment.
It's time to join the coalition of insurance companies and business groups that support parity because they know it's cost-effective and saves health care dollars.
It's time to make this bipartisan legislation the law of the land. The people of America cannot afford to wait any longer for Congress to act.
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Mr. RAMSTAD. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of the revised economic recovery bill.
The inclusion of the mental health parity bill, major tax relief and bank deposit, FDIC, insurance increases caused me to reconsider my position and I believe there's too much at stake to let the legislation fail.
The revised bill is a recovery bill for the economy and a recovery bill for millions of Americans suffering the ravages of mental illness and addiction.
This revised legislation will also protect 22 million middle-income taxpayers from the enormous tax increases of the Alternative Minimum Tax, AMT.
Madam Speaker, the revised bill also extends research and development tax credits to create jobs and renewable energy credits to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The revised bill also includes higher education deductions and child credits to help families and students.
Also, the revised bill increases bank deposit insurance limits, FDIC, to $250,000 to protect depositors and help small businesses that need credit.
Madam Speaker, I will vote for the revised economic recovery plan to help Minnesota's working families, seniors and small businesses during this historic crisis in our economy. The credit crisis is real, and it's destroying jobs, retirement savings and the American dream.
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