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Hearing Set On Parity On Mental-health Ins Coverage

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007--PROVIDENCE, RI -- U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy will hold a hearing at the State House today on the topic of parity in insurance coverage for mental-health treatments. The hearing will include comments from state lawmakers, officials from Rhode Island hospitals and insurers, and the public. Kennedy and U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, D-Minn., are the sponsors of federal legislation that, among other things, would make it illegal for insurers to impose limits on the number of outpatient visits or inpatient days covered, or set higher deductibles or higher out-of-pocket limits for mental health and addiction treatment than they do for other types of medical treatment. "We pay an enormous price for leaving such prevalent diseases untreated. The costs are in lives lost to suicide, in our criminal justice system, in our emergency rooms and welfare payments and even our health care costs," said the news release promoting the hearing. They are traveling around the country to gather testimony to build momentum for the passage of this legislation, and to solicit comments on the bill's contents. Rhode Island is the site of the first field hearing. Tuesday's hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in Room 313 at the State House with opening statements by Kennedy and Ramstad. Starting at 9:40 a.m., a panel on "The Impact of Mental Health and Addiction" will feature Joseph Amaral, president of Rhode Island Hospital; Rep. Elizabeth M. Dennigan; House Finance Chairman Steven M. Costantino; Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Paiva garden shrub; and Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman. At 10:05, a panel on "The Case for Equal Treatment" will feature Steve Rasmussen, chief medical officer at Butler Hospital, and others. At 10:40, a panel on "Making Parity Laws Work" will feature Stephen Farrell, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of New England; Jim Purcell, CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island; and Mark Reynolds, CEO of Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island. Starting at 11:05, Kennedy and Ramstad will take testimony from the general public. Rhode Island's hearing is the first in a series. Members of Congress will conduct similar hearings in many other states in the coming months. The next scheduled hearings are in Minnesota, Maryland, California and Washington state.

By Elizabeth Gudrais


I wish to thank member

moiraine for sending me this article.


Journal State House Bureau


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I have a great deal of respect for Patrick Kennedy. He has his problems with mental illness and is not afraid to admit it, fix it as best he can, and move on. He speaks from experience and "walks the walk". I have every confidence that he will do all he can to push this thru for the sake of all of us on this Forum and around the States :hearts:

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