Final Mental Health Bill Must Maintain Coverage (Rep. David Camp)

It took a long time, but it can easily be said that there is broad support for mental health parity. It is good health policy, and it is good fiscal policy. Treatment is the right path for patients and their families, and it is certainly healthier and cheaper than the alternative -- waiting until a crisis occurs.

Despite the near unanimous call for parity, we have some major differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill. And while I don't say this often, on this issue the Senate has it right.

In my opinion, the Senate bill balances the needs of patients with the ability of employers to provide quality, affordable health insurance.

If we go with the House version, I worry that additional mandates will add costs to employers and they will either pass those costs directly on to their employees or they will simply choose to drop coverage all together. If we achieve parity but eliminate coverage, then we will have taken a step backward.

Again, it has taken a long time to reach consensus on this issue. It would be a shame if we had to again settle for a one-year extension when there is an opportunity to provide significant improvements in parity.

If we were to concentrate our efforts on passing the Senate bill, it is my firm belief we could have a bill on the President's desk by the end of the week.