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Three current members of the U.S. House, joined by two former members, argued this week that health insurers are trying to take advantage of customers by decreasing coverage of mental health and addiction treatment.

These legislators are advocating for the federal government to fully implement the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act, signed into law four years ago. The law, which prevents insurers from putting more restrictive limits on mental health and substance abuse benefits than those for medical or surgical benefits, has not been fully implemented, WAMU reports.

Many people who seek coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment say insurers are trying to limit their coverage. Several of them spoke this week at a hearing focusing on the implementation and enforcement of the act.

“Both common sense and simple fairness dictate that mental health diseases be treated on an equal footing with other health conditions,” Maryland Representative Chris Van Hollen, who hosted the hearing, said in a news release. “As early supporters of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, we felt it was important to hear from stakeholders about how the law is impacting them. We’ve made a lot of progress, but there is much more to be done to ensure that the law is meeting the goals Congress intended when it was enacted.”

He was joined by Virginia Representatives Jim Moran and Paul Tonko of New York, as well as former Representatives Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island and Jim Ramstad of Minnesota. At the hearing, patients, government officials and experts in mental health and addiction talked about how the law is affecting individuals’ access to mental health and addiction treatment benefits.

The hearing was one of a series around the nation through the end of the year.


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