The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 8, 2013

News & Comment: Progress on mental health

The Obama Health and Human Services Department gave final approval Friday to mental health parity rules for a bipartisan law that was approved five years ago and signed by President George W.  Bush. 

The late Sen. Paul Wellstone was a major force behind the bill, as was former Congressman Jim Ramstad, a Republican.

It requires health care insurance companies to basically pay for mental health services as they would other physical health services, keeping co-pays and out pockets cost equitable. They will also be required to cover mental health services and substance abuse services.

It's been a long time coming. The rulemaking seemed like it was bogged down in politics and bureacracy. The Obama administration vowed to push administratively on this in the wake Newtown school shooting last December.

This action may be one piece of giving people with mental illness the help they need. It certainly lowers the bureaucratic barrier but also the stigma of mental health.

Here is Friday's wire story on the topic. 

Free Press reporter Dan Linehan did a fine series of stories on folks with mental illness about a year ago. Go here to read those stories.

Other progress we have made on this topic includes adding funding for Minnesota schools to provide mental health services closer to those students who need them.

Read our report the detailed the proposal as it was moving through the Senate. It was ultimately approved.

And the Mankato Department of Public Safety also conducted this summer one of the first mental health trainings for its officers. Read more

The good news is, we're making progress. We're being proactive on this very serious and important issue to those who suffer from mental illness, their families and the community as a whole.

More is needed, but we're making strides.

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