Democrats introduce new legislation aimed at improving health insurance for those with mental issues.
Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), the lead Senate author of the Wisconsin Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity Act, says mental illnesses and drug and alcohol addictions should be treated just like physical ailments.
“I’m cosponsoring this legislation because I believe that requiring the equal treatment of mental and physical disorders is in the best interest of all employees and all the employers of this state.”
The Green Bay Democrat says too often, those who need it forego treatment simply because they can’t afford it. His bill would make vital treatment more accessible and affordable, but not mandatory. Hansen says business and government would benefit from employees’ increased productivity and cost savings associated with early diagnosis and treatment.
“But more than that, current laws that allow for the inequitable treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders are nothing more than legalized discrimination.”
Individual health plans, and employers with 50 or fewer employees, are exempt from current federal law requiring equal coverage. This new measure would close part of the gap. Representative Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay), Assembly author of the bill, says mental illness is real; people can’t just buck-up and hope it goes away.
“It originates in the brain and it cannot be willed away by pulling up one’s bootstraps any more than heart attacks, or diabetes or fractured legs can be willed away.”
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in four adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year. Seven states currently have similar health parity laws.
NOTE: For more than 700,000 Wisconsin residents, the federal Act offers no protection. Democrats unveiled the legislation Wednesday at the state capitol.