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With Floor Statement and Vote, Patrick Murphy Fights for a Fair Health Care System

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

With Floor Statement and Vote, Patrick Murphy Fights for a Fair Health Care System

8th District Congressman Speaks on House Floor and Votes for a Bipartisan Bill Designed to End Discrimination Against Those Seeking Treatment for Mental Illness

Late yesterday, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) stood up against discrimination. With the House of Representatives considering a landmark measure for greater parity in mental health care, Rep. Murphy made a floor statement in favor of and voted for H.R. 1424, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act. In doing this, Murphy stood shoulder to shoulder with those who seek treatment for mental illness but don't receive the same level of treatment as those who suffer from physical ailments. The bill - which has more than 270 bipartisan cosponsors in the House - would permanently reauthorize and expand the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 which provides equity between the coverage of mental health and substance-related disorders and the coverage of medical and surgical disorders. Among the provisions in this bill, Murphy was proud to fight for one specific measure that is especially critical in Pennsylvania. The Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act includes a requirement that ensures that this bill does not pre-empt stronger state measures. One example of this is Pennsylvania's Act 106 - which has saved countless lives by providing treatment for those with harmful addictions. The bill passed with wide bipartisan support and a final vote of 268-148.

"I was proud to fight on behalf of this landmark and bipartisan bill which will put us on the path toward a health care system that works," said Congressman Patrick Murphy. "This legislation not only promotes fairness for those with mental illness, it also maintains stronger state laws such as Pennsylvania's Act 106 - which has saved countless lives."

"As we push to preserve these stronger state laws in conference and fight for this critical legislation, I proudly stand side-by-side with State Representative Gene DiGirolamo. He has been a leader for mental health parity and for health care laws that are fair and just and I want to thank him for his input on this legislation," added Murphy.

About the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act
Among the provisions of the bill, language is included to prevent group health plans from offering different treatment limitations or charge higher copayments, co-insurance, deductibles, and impose maximum out-of-pocket limits and lower day and visit limits on mental health and addiction care than for medical and surgical benefits. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Internal Revenue Service may penalize health plans for discriminatory practices under the bill and individuals can fight for their covered benefits. The following provisions are also included:

Does not pre-empt stronger state parity laws. The bill establishes a federal standard, a floor of protections that would apply to job-based health coverage, but allows states to be more protective of their residents with stronger parity laws.

Does not mandate mental health benefits. The bill does not mandate insurers or group health plans to provide any mental health coverage. The bill's provisions only apply to plans that choose to offer mental health coverage.

Exempts certain businesses. The bill exempts small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. It also exempts those businesses that experience an overall premium increase of 2 percent or more in the first year and 1 percent in subsequent years.

Promotes Specific and Transparent Coverage. The bill allows the use of medical management tools that are based on valid medical evidence and pertinent to the patient's medical condition so that specific coverage is not arbitrary in its application and more transparent to the patient.

Provides for enforcement. The bill provides remedies to protect beneficiaries' rights and permits enforcement of the bill's equity requirements by the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Labor.

This bipartisan bill is supported by a long list of groups, including the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Hispanic Medical Association, American Counseling Association, National Association of Social Workers, Families USA, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, National Mental Health Awareness Campaign, and Mental Health America.

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