Location: Indiana, United States

I became a Professor Emeritus after serving 29 years as a recreational therapy faculty member at Indiana University. I'm a long-time Hoosier, having grown up in Hanover, Indiana. My RT practitioner work was in psych/mental health. After completing my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, my first faculty position was at the University of North Texas. RT has been a wonderful profession for me as I have had the opportunity to serve as an author and national leader.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Action Alert on Mental Health Parity Bill

This is a release I received today from the Bazelon Center:

Negotiations on Parity Near Conclusion

The following urgent action alert comes from the Health Policy Committee of the
Mental Health Liaison Group, co-chaired by Laurel Stine of the Bazelon Center
and Peter Newbould of the American Psychological Association.

Targets: All Members of the House of Representatives and Senate.

Action: Use the toll-free Parity Hotline, 1-866-parity4 (1-866-727-4894), to
call your U.S. Representative and Senators. (The Parity Hotline reaches the
Capitol switchboard, which can connect callers to their members of Congress).

Message: "I am calling to ask that the Representative/Senator urge the
Leadership to help conclude negotiations on a mental health parity bill that
can pass in both houses and become law this year. Relief from health benefit
discrimination against mental and substance use disorders must wait no

Background: With suicide claiming some 30,000 lives each year in this country,
health-benefit barriers still block millions of Americans from getting needed
mental health and substance-use treatment. Given the critical need for
Congress to lift those discriminatory barriers and a limited number of
legislative days to do so, there is profound urgency to forging a compromise on
mental health parity legislation that will not only yield strong protections
but can pass both chambers. We applaud initial steps to reach that compromise,
and call on Senate and House leaders to move quickly to ensure enactment of a
strong mental health parity law this year.

We have been pushing hard since 2001 to enact full mental health parity, and
victory is finally within reach. Following the Senate's historic passage of S. 558
by unanimous consent in September and House passage of H.R. 1424 on March
5, informal negotiations commenced. Parity supporters across America should
contact their Representative and Senators NOW to urge support for successfully
concluding this process. Senate and House leaders should continue to work
together to reconcile differences between the versions and produce a bill that
can pass in both chambers.

Failure to pass a parity bill in 2008 would further delay relief for millions
of American families who now face discrimination. It would also place the
issue directly in the path of a health care policy tornado in 2009 -- health
care reform - with no assurance that our issue would receive the attention it

The Legislation: Both S. 558 and H.R. 1424 expand the Mental Health Parity Act
of 1996 by prohibiting group health plans from imposing treatment or financial
limitations on mental health benefits that are different from those applied to
medical/surgical services. The legislation applies only to group health plans
already providing mental health benefits and exempts plans sponsored by small
businesses of 50 and under employees.

Resources: Fact sheets on parity and rosters of organizations supporting the
House and Senate bills may be found at


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