Last night Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, in cooperation with mental health and addiction treatment advocates, hosted a Congressional Forum that focused on the implementation and enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Congressman Van Hollen was joined by Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA), Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), former Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), and former Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN). Local citizens, government officials, and experts in mental health and addiction discussed how the law is affecting individuals' access to non-discriminatory mental health and addiction treatment benefits.
"Both common sense and simple fairness dictate that mental health diseases be treated on an equal footing with other health conditions," said Congressman Van Hollen. "As early supporters of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, we felt it was important to hear from stakeholders about how the law is impacting them. We've made a lot of progress, but there is much more to be done to ensure that the law is meeting the goals Congress intended when it was enacted."
"There is a great need for complete and absolute parity for mental health treatments -- more than 11 million adult Americans suffered from severe mental illness in the past year. We have come far in both understanding and treating mental disorders, but as discussion at Tuesday's forum reflected, we have a long way to go to bring down barriers to mental health treatment," said Congressman Moran.
"Mental health insurance coverage should be no different than physical health insurance coverage. After all, one in five adults nationwide suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. As the sponsor of New York's mental health parity law, Timothy's Law, and a co-chair of the bipartisan Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, last night's forum was a chance to bring a voice to the voiceless and hope to the doorsteps of so many. I am proud to continue to work with any of my colleagues in the House who will stand up with me and fight for fair and full implementation of the Wellstone-Domenici Act on behalf of mental health and addiction patients," said Congressman Tonko.