White House To Issue “Sweeping” Mental Health Rules

Many were wondering on Thursday why HHS chief-incompetent Kathleen Sebelius was heading to Atlanta. Some wondered whether she would announce a delay for Obamacare. Nope

(The Hill) The Obama administration will issue long awaited regulations Friday that require insurers to treat mental illness and addiction the same as physical illnesses, current and former lawmakers said.

In testimony Thursday before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, mental health advocate and former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would announce the action during a speech in Atlanta. Members of the panel familiar with the rule-making also said the regulations would be issued Friday.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was passed through a rider on the TARP legislation in October 2008, following on the heals of the 1996 Mental Health Parity Act, which had sunset provisions and was reathorized multiple times. One has to wonder exactly why it took the Obama administration 5 years to enact the rules of the MHPAEA.

One also has to wonder why this is a big deal, considering the there all already rules in place for the 1996 law that require insurers to treat mental illness the same as physical illness, and to provide coverage for mental illness via health insurance. Let’s ask the NY Times

The rules, which will apply to almost all forms of insurance, will have far-reaching consequences for many Americans. In the White House, the regulations are also seen as critical to President Obama’s program for curbing gun violence by addressing an issue on which there is bipartisan agreement: Making treatment more available to those with mental illness could reduce killings, including mass murders.

In issuing the regulations, senior officials said, the administration will have acted on all 23 executive actions that the president and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced early this year to reduce gun crimes after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. In planning those actions, the administration anticipated that gun control legislation would fail in Congress as pressure from the gun lobby proved longer-lasting than the national trauma over the killings of first graders and their caretakers last Dec. 14.

So this is really about changing the subject. I wonder if any intrepid reporter will ask Sebelius why it took the Smartest President Evah!!!! 5 years to finalize the rules.

While laws and regulations dating to 1996 took initial steps in requiring insurance parity for medical and mental health, “here we’re doing full parity, and we’ve also taken steps to extend it to the people covered in the Affordable Care Act,” the senior official said. “This is kind of the final word on parity.”

Anyone else think that this will mean an even bigger jump in insurance prices? However, the law itself does not apply to any business with 50 or less employees. Will Team Obama note that?

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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