Friday, September 26, 2008

Paying Attention to Mental Health

Yesterday, amid all the wrangling over the debates and the bailout bill, Congress managed to pass a long-overdue bill with bipartisan support. The bill, once championed by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, requires private insurers to provide benefits for mental health treatment to equal those of physical ailments. The bill’s chief co-sponsors in the House, Rep. Jim Ramstead (R-MN) and Rep. Pat Kennedy (D-RI), have both experienced problems with addiction firsthand.

Although the legislation still only addresses the mental health of those already insured, it signals a significant change in the way we approach health care in this country. There has already been an effort to include preventative care in health insurance plans, but sometimes the best way to address health care is to pay attention to other problems that are typically classified as “mental problems”: depression, anxiety, alcoholism, or drug addition. The last thing to add to such struggles is hours of wrangling with insurance companies.

Cross posted at Pushback.

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