Senate Moves Forward on Health Care Reform
The week of December 7th, 2009, the Senate resumed work on comprehensive health care reform legislation. The bill (HR 3590) would expand access to health coverage for the uninsured, reform the insurance market and enact a series of changes designed to improve quality and promote accountability. The full Senate is expected to spend most of December working on the bill and considering hundreds of proposed amendments.
Critical Amendments Expected
Senators from both parties have already offered hundreds of amendments – many of them important to the interests of people living with serious mental illness. NAMI will continue to monitor amendments as they are filed and voted on.
Advocates are strongly encouraged to call their Senators today and urge support for two amendments:
1. The Cardin Amendment authorizing an in-depth examination of barriers to access in the Medicare Part D program for beneficiaries dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, including how cost sharing requirements for dual eligibles limit access to prescriptions, and
2. The Stabenow Amendment to establish a national resource for the development and dissemination of evidence-based interventions for depression and bipolar illness (also know as the ENHANCED Act (S 1857) .
All Senate offices can be reached at 202-224-3121.
What is in the Senate Bill for People Living With Serious Mental Illness?
The Senate bill contains a number of critical priorities for NAMI designed to expand and improve coverage for mental illness treatment and enact protections for children and adults living with serious mental illness. Among these are:
1. Expanded Medicaid eligibility for childless adults up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, including individuals living with serious mental illness who currently do not qualify for Medicaid coverage in their state. These individuals are currently more likely to be uninsured and most likely to be without any health care insurance coverage at all.
2. Expanded coverage for the uninsured through a new national health insurance "Exchange" would be required to have mental health benefits and cover those benefits at parity. This would expand the 2008 federal parity law into the individual and small group market in many states.
3. New protections for individuals that already have insurance coverage or are at risk of losing coverage. Insurance reforms included in the House bill would ensure that people with mental illness could not be denied health insurance benefits on the basis of a preexisting condition or could not be dropped from existing coverage due to their medical condition.
NAMI is continuing to urge all Senators to support moving forward in this important national debate.
View additional information on the Senate bill.