Mental Health America Praises Inclusion of
Mental Health Parity In SCHIP Bill
Lower Income Children Have Much Higher Rates of Mental Health Conditions
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or email@example.com
ALEXANDRIA, VA (February 4, 2009)-Mental Health America praised inclusion of parity for mental health and substance use care in legislation reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives today and sent to President Obama for his signature.
This legislation prohibits SCHIP plans from setting lower treatment limitations or higher financial requirements on coverage of mental health or substance use services than they set for other health services. This provision clarifies that the mental health and substance use parity law passed by Congress last year fully applies to SCHIP.
The parity requirement is critical because although low-income children have much higher rates of mental health conditions, only about 40 percent of states offer full coverage of necessary services for children with complex mental health needs.
The great majority of children with behavioral health conditions do not receive treatment which can lead to school failure, poor employment opportunities, increased risk of contact with the juvenile justice system, and even suicide.
"Mental health care is a critical component of the range of services that children need for healthy development," said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. "This important legislation would improve access to appropriate mental health and substance use services for the many low-income children at risk."
The bill would also eliminate a discriminatory provision in current law that authorizes states to provide only 75 percent of the mental health coverage included in the benchmark plans designated as models for SCHIP plans.
Celebrating 100 years of mental health advocacy, Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 300 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation-everyday and in times of crisis. In 2009, we are marking a century of achievement with a year-long Centennial Observance: "Celebrating the Legacy. Forging the Future."