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Washington Labor & Employment Wire » Senate Democrats Unable to End Filibuster on ERISA Amendments Regarding Mental Health Parity

Senate Democrats Unable to End Filibuster on ERISA Amendments Regarding Mental Health Parity


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Falling nine votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a Republican-backed filibuster on July 30, the Senate was unable to advance a House and Senate compromise over mental health parity language which was attached to pending energy and tax legislation (S. 3335).

The mental health parity provisions would amend ERISA to require group health plans to administer treatment limitations, beneficiary financial requirements and out-of-network coverage so that mental health benefits are no more restrictive than “substantially all medical and surgical benefits.” The legislation would exempt group health plans of employers with fewer than 50 employees.

Senate Democrats, with a handful of Republicans, mustered only 51 votes for cloture. Previous stand-alone mental health parity legislation has passed both the House and Senate, with the House approving mental health parity legislation (H.R. 1424) on March 5 by a vote of 268-148, and the Senate approving similar but distinct legislation (S. 558) by unanimous consent in September 2007.

Congress will likely continue consideration of the mental health parity compromise legislation upon return from its August recess.