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Senate Moves to Complete Action on Health Reform

December 23, 2009

The Senate is expected to give final approval to comprehensive health reform legislation on December 24, 2009, completing nearly a month of deliberations. The bill is designed to expand access to coverage for the uninsured, improve quality, control costs and make improvements to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. After passage later this week, efforts are expected to begin immediately to resolve differences with a separate bill that passed the House in November. The hope is to move a final bill to the President in early 2010.

Take Action Now!

Advocates are strongly encouraged to contact their Senators to express support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Senate bill HR 3590. Earlier this week, NAMI sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in support of the Senate bill and swift action to finalize an agreement with the House.

All Senate offices can be reached toll-free at 800-828-0498.

The following critical provisions to legislation of importance to people living with serious mental illness and their families should be emphasized for inclusion in the final Senate bill:

  • Inclusion of mental illness treatment in the required benefits package in the new health insurance Exchanges with a requirement for all plans in the Exchanges to comply with the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008;
  • Expansion of Medicaid eligibility for single adults living with mental illness up to 133% of the federal poverty level;
  • Strong insurance market reforms that will bar pre-existing condition exclusions, and require guaranteed issue and renewability of policies regardless of health status and impose annual and lifetime limits on policies;
  • Improvements to the Medicare Part D program, including filling the “doughnut hole” coverage gap, added protections for dual eligible beneficiaries and strengthened requirements for broad coverage of medications to treat mental illness on drug plan formularies; and
  • Authorization of a new Medicaid demonstration for acute inpatient psychiatric care.

Read additional information on federal health care legislation and key NAMI priorities in this important debate.

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