Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, Co-Chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, requesting that the Obama Administration issue the final rule for the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). This bipartisan legislation, signed into law in 2008, ensures mental health and addiction treatment are covered the same as treatment for other medical illnesses and conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and other physical illnesses.
The letter comes in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as MHPAEA plays a critical role in allowing those suffering from mental illness and addictive disorders to have access to the benefits listed within ACA. Once the final rule is issued, Americans with mental health and addiction disorders can no longer be discriminated against by health care providers.
"I support every effort that will establish long overdue equal access to mental health and addiction recovery services," Napolitano said.
Napolitano also cited how access to mental health services is especially critical for returning Iraq and Afghanistan military service members. According to a letter on July 8, 2011, sent to Secretaries Sebelius, Geithner, and Solis by former Representatives Jim Ramstad and Patrick Kennedy, over 70% of National Guardsmen and Reservists access care in the private sector.
· One out of every five Americans will suffer from some type of mental illness at least once in their lifetime (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Report)
· 70% of adolescents with mental health problems do not receive care (Journal of Adolescent Health, volume 38)
· The U.S. military loses 25 soldiers to suicide for every soldier lost in combat (New York Times)