Mental Health Parity

By: Jessica Aspiras Email
By: Jessica Aspiras Email

Walk a mile in my shoes. That's what those suffering from mental illness chanted at last May's mental health rally, as hundreds gathered to call for an expansion of mental health insurance coverage in Michigan. Now nine months later, that just might happen.

According to Rep. Bert Johnson (D-Detroit), "We are introducing legislation that would require health insurance in Michigan offer health benefits on par with coverage for other medical conditions."

Thursday a bipartisan group of state representatives introduced the Mental Health Parity Plan.

"Parity is just evenness It's treating people the same, treating all illnesses that can be treated, the same," explains Rep. Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing).

Sen. Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor) says, "It's important that we not distinguish between illnesses of the brain and illnesses of other organs of the body -- that mental illness is a brain disorder which can be seen physically on a brain scan and if we don't treat it, it can be deadly."

Michigan is one of eight states left in the country without some form of mental health parity.

"They either have to pay way more out of pocket and or they're offered only restricted benefits that after you've spent "X" amount of dollars during the course of the year or during the course of your lifetime that's it. The rest of your coverage can continue, but that's it, no more mental health," says Mark Reinstein of the Mental Health Association of Michigan.

"Medicine is important. But it needs to go hand in hand with therapy. These are modes of treatment that will work. People should have coverage for that," says Kathleen Gross of the Michigan Psychiatric Society.

The legislation is expected to be brought to committee in the next few weeks.


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