United States President
"The Civil Rights Movement of this decade is Mental Health Care quality and equality."
-- Updated December 30, 2004 --

      Welcome! 

    The mission of this page is to provide links to information and resources about the thinking, decisions, and initiatives of President George W. Bush and his Cabinet regarding mental health care and chemical dependency treatment in the United States.

      Links to the President and the White House.

      New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

    Please go to the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health Web site to read the interim and final reports of the Commission.

      "President Bush established the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in April 2002 as part of his commitment to eliminate inequality for Americans with disabilities. The President directed the Commission to identify policies that could be implemented by Federal, State and local governments to maximize the utility of existing resources, improve coordination of treatments and services, and promote successful community integration for adults with a serious mental illness and children with a serious emotional disturbance.

      From June 2002 to April 2003, the 22 Commissioners met monthly to analyze the public and private mental health systems, visit innovative model programs across the country and hear testimony from the systems' many stakeholders, including dozens of consumers of mental health care, families, advocates, public and private providers and administrators and mental health researchers."

    The final report of the Commission was released on July 22, 2003. Since then, barely a word has been uttered about the findings and recommendations of the Commission, and not a word has been uttered about the Commission by President Bush. Although one could argue that there have been many intervening high-priority events, including a war on terrorism and a war in Iraq, the hard work of the Commission has been ignored for over 9 months.

      Mental Health Parity in the U.S. Congress.

    In the case of federal mental health parity, President Bush has let his right-hand man in the Senate, Senator Bill Frist, block the federal mental health parity bill for over two years. And, that is not all. President Bush has never highlighted the Medicare Mental Health Modernization Act which would allow older adults much more access to mental health care. In addition, President Bush does not oppose federal laws that are being passed to mandate "bare bones" insurance coverage options at the state level that would exclude mental health care coverage. In other words, the president who spoke so glowingly of mental health parity in April 2002 is more than willing to let Congress pre-empt states who have passed mental health parity laws. The following are links to information about these bills.

    • S.486, the "Senator Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act of 2003", a bill to provide for equal coverage of mental health benefits with respect to health insurance coverage unless comparable limitations are imposed on medical and surgical benefits. Sponsor: Sen Domenici, Pete V. [NM] (introduced 2/27/2003).

    • S.646, the "2003 Medicare Mental Health Modernization Act which is a bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to expand and improve coverage of mental health services under the medicare program. S. 646 will repeal the 50% copayment for outpatient mental health services and replace it with the standard 20% copayment for which all other outpatient services are assessed. Under the current system, if a Medicare patient sees an endocrinologist for diabetes treatment, an oncologist for cancer treatment, a cardiologist for heart disease treatment or an internist for treatment of the flu, the co-payment is 20% of the cost of the visit. If, however, a Medicare patient visits a psychiatrist for treatment of mental illness, the co-payment is 50% of the cost of the visit. This disparity in outpatient co-payments represents discrimination against Medicare beneficiaries with mental illness.

    • H.R. 4281, entitled "Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2004, whose contents have not even been posted yet on the Thomas Legislative Information Web sit would exempt certain employers from state regulation, including state mental health parity requirements. H.R. 4281 is a resurrection of H.R. 660, passed by the House in 2003, and its reintroduction is a method the U.S. House is using to pressure the Senate into taking action on S. 545. S. 545 is the Senate's version of H.R. 660.

    • To read the National Mental Health Association position on H.R. 4281, click here.

    • To read more about mental health parity, please go to MentalHealthParity.com.

      Thank You for Stopping By!

        - Best wishes, Ron Sterling M.D. (Seattle, Washington, USA)


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RON STERLING, M.D.
Phone: 206-784-7842


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