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Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007--Continued

Location: Washington, DC

PAUL WELLSTONE MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION EQUITY ACT OF 2007--Continued -- (House of Representatives - March 05, 2008)


Mrs. WILSON of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, I would ask my colleagues to remember only three things about this motion to recommit:

First, it happens immediately. This is ``forthwith'' so we can do this tonight. Don't send it back to committee. We can do it right now.

Second, it substitutes the Senate bill that is supported by 245 different organizations, including the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the American Psychological Association and numerous others. It's a bipartisan bill that passed unanimously in the United States Senate. It has the parity provisions very similar to the ones that Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Ramstad have brought forward, but an important policy difference. The Ramstad-Kennedy bill does not require employers to cover mental health care. It says, if they do offer it, it must include every diagnosis in the DSM-IV manual, everything. No other, including the Federal employees health plan, goes that far. I think that the likely result of that will be what we all don't want to see, which is employers drop mental health coverage completely. That's why organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness support the Senate bill and not the House bill. They want to see an expansion of coverage for the mentally ill, not a loss of coverage for 18 million seriously ill Americans.

The third thing that I want you to remember is this: There's been a lot of discussion about the pay-for in the bill we're asked to vote on here on the floor tonight. This motion to recommit would defeat the provision that will close physician-owned hospitals, including a lot of them in rural areas of America as a different pay-for that extends a successful pilot project for electronic verification of assets for Medicaid eligibility.

So three things. We can do it tonight, it doesn't go back to committee. It is better policy which will extend greater coverage for those who are mentally ill. And the pay-for doesn't hurt our rural, physician-owned hospitals.


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