With more Americans calling out for improved access to mental health care in the wake of the horrific Newtown shootings, today Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) and thirty of their House colleagues sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urging for final implementation rules for the Paul Wellstone and Pete Dominici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). The landmark parity legislation, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008, requires insurance companies to provide equal coverage for mental illness as for other types of disorders. As President Obama reaffirms his commitment to working with the 113th Congress to address gun violence in America, this letter emphasizes how the delayed issuance of final rules for the MHPAEA continues to jeopardize families' access to affordable mental health services.
"If there is even a chance that improved access to mental health services could avert tragedies like this most recent one or help families struggling with untreated mental illness of a loved one, then we must act swiftly and without further needless delay," the members write. "While we know that the overwhelming majority of Americans with psychiatric disorders are no more violent than those without, there is no question that all of our communities will benefit from greater access to mental health care."
Joining Reps. Deutch and Ryan on the letter were Reps. John D. Dingell, George Miller, Eliot Engel, Jim Moran, Sam Farr, Elijah Cummings, James McGovern, John Tierney, Lois Capps, Grace Napolitano, Janice Schakowsky, James Langevin, Rick Larsen, Betty McCollum, Raúl Grijalva, Chris Van Hollen, Gwen Moore, Allyson Schwartz, Joe Courtney, Keith Ellison, Hank Johnson, Jr., David Loebsack, Timothy Walz, Niki Tsongas, Paul Tonko, Mike Quigley, Judy Chu, David Cicilline, William Keating, and Suzanne Bonamici.