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Debate on Mental Health Parity Bill to Continue in House

March 18, 2002
By: Jon Ariztimuno
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB1440

Sponsor:Wilson
Description:Requires health insurers to treat mental health in the same manner as other medical services
Current Status: House floor
Next Step:debate scheduled to continue today

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House is scheduled to continue debate today on a mental health parity bill sponsored by Columbia representatives Vicky Riback Wilson and Tim Harlan.

The bill repeals the current law and requires insurance companies in Missouri that provide health benefit plans to provide more complete mental health coverage. That includes eliminating provisions in the law that allow health carriers to limit treatment for people with drug and alcohol addictions.

On the House floor yesterday Wilson said $28.8 million per year is lost in productivity to business because of absence for mental health reasons.

"Early treatment saves money,... saves anguish to individuals and families," she said.

Rep. Gary Marble, R-Neosho, introduced an amendment to create a review commission that would estimate the costs of mandated programs like the one proposed.

"I'm not saying a mandate is needed or not needed, I'm just saying that we need to take the time to slow down and look at what it costs and how much it's being used," Marble said.

The amendment was going to add a "complex bureaucratic structure" to the bill, Wilson said. She said she sees the defeat as a good sign for the bill's chances to be passed.