Case #1948.0

Achieving Mental Health Parity

Publication Date: July 28, 2011
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In October 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law a requirement that certain private health insurance plans provide coverage for mental illness equal to coverage provided for medical-surgical illness as part of an economic stimulus package, capping more than a decade of advocacy in both houses of Congress by a bipartisan coalition of Congressmen and Senators for mental health parity. Through multiple changes in Congressional leadership, the coalition--including Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM), Paul Wellstone (D-MN), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN)--remained consistent and employed multiple procedural, political, and negotiation strategies to increase the visibility of mental health parity and advance their cause through piecemeal efforts.

Learning Objective:
The sixteen-year path of mental health parity from first introduction in Congress to eventual enactment is an example of the impact of personal commitment, personalities and personal relationships, and the importance of the committee structure, political party leadership, and windows of political opportunity.

Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Case Author:
Samantha Black
Faculty Lead:
David King
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States