Act Now to Support Children’s Mental Health – House and Senate Set to Vote on SCHIP Legislation
July 31, 2007
This week both the House and Senate will act on legislation reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and make important improvement to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. NAMI strongly supports both the House and Senate bills and new protections added for low-income children and adults living with mental illness.
Advocates are strongly encouraged to contact their House member and Senators and urge them to support the House and Senate SCHIP bills – HR 3162 and S 1893. Both bills:
- Provide new resources to help states reach more eligible low-income uninsured children, and
- Ensure that private SCHIP plans equitably cover treatment for mental illness.
In addition, the House bill adds critical improvements for both Medicare and Medicaid including provisions that:
- Establish parity for beneficiary cost sharing for outpatient mental illness treatment (lowering the current 50% requirement down to 20%),
- Impose a moratorium on issuance new Medicaid regulations designed to curtail allowable services under the Rehabilitation Option that finances many critical community-based mental health services – Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts will be offering an amendment to S 1893 to impose a similar moratorium, and
- Make critical improvements to the Medicare Part D drug benefit such as –
- Codifying current requirements for Part D formularies to have broad coverage of medications to treatment mental illness
- Providing relief from cost sharing requirements for certain dual eligibles with mental illness,
- Limiting the asset test to allow more beneficiaries to qualify for the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) and avoid the “doughnut hole” coverage gap,
- Eliminating the late enrollment penalty for LIS eligible individuals, and
- Allowing mid-year enrollment changes in cases where plans remove a medication from a plan’s formulary.
The House could vote on HR 3162 as early as August 2. The Senate is expected to vote on S 1893 by the end of the week.
A special toll-free number has been set up this week to the Capitol Switchboard for advocates wishing to call their members of Congress – 800-828-0498.
Urge Congress to support uninsured children with mental illness and improve mental health benefits under both Medicare and Medicaid!!! Vote Yes on HR 3162 and S 1893!!
Advocates can also send their House member and Senators an urgent e-mail message by clicking here.