Letter Thanking Sponsors of the "Mental Health Parity Act of 2007" (S.558)
May 25, 2007
Sent to Sen. Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Domenici (R-NM), Sen. Enzi (R-WY)
Dear Chairman Kennedy:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region, would like to thank you and the other sponsors for crafting S. 558, the "Mental Health Parity Act of 2007," (S.558), which will be considered by the Senate.
The Chamber appreciates the bipartisan efforts of this carefully crafted bill, as input from all crucial stakeholders was considered. The legislation contains a delicate balance that allows employers and health plans to comply with new requirements for financial and treatment parity for mental health coverage, but also contains important design flexibility and allows for the use of medical management tools. The Chamber strongly supports providing for the use of these tools.
Previous mental health parity bills, including the version under consideration in the House of Representatives, have raised significant concerns for the Chamber and many of its member companies. Most significantly, these concerns lie in the areas of preemption; scope and definition; and the flexibility to incorporate parity while preserving the ability to appropriately provide coverage. The language in the Senate bill has changed since its Committee consideration in February 2007, and while the Chamber did support the Chairman's Mark, we are concerned that changes to the preemption section may impede the goal of achieving a uniform mental health benefit from state to state.
While S.558 is not perfect, the Chamber would like to recognize and commend you for the comprehensive discussions and inclusive dialogue of all stakeholders – including insurers, employers, and behavioral health care providers– that has facilitated this compromise legislation. The Chamber encourages the Senate to pass S.558 without further amendment.
R. Bruce Josten