Ayn Rand Institute Press Release
Congress Should Not Dictate Mental Health Benefits
July 17, 2008
Irvine, CA--In a bipartisan effort, the House and Senate are finalizing legislation that forbids less favorable insurance coverage for mental illness than for physical illness. Lawmakers expect the measure to be on President Bush's desk for approval later this month.
"This bill violates an employer's right to control costs by limiting benefits," said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute. "The bill's supporters point to the obvious fact that mental illness is as real and as destructive as physical illness. But employers have no duty to cure all ills, or any ills; rather, they have an absolute right to limit or deny employee coverage on any basis. For example, many employers are reluctant to foot the bill for what they see as open-ended therapies, whose great expense is not justified by any certain cure."
Back in 1996, Congress enacted the first federal Mental Health Parity Act, which prohibited employers from imposing lower annual or lifetime limits for mental treatment, as compared to physical treatment. The new law, which would apply to employers of more than 50 people, does not require that mental health coverage be offered. However, if such coverage is offered, it must feature equal coinsurance, co-pays, and deductibles; equal limits on doctors' visits and frequency and duration of treatments; and equivalent access to out-of-network providers.
"Such legislation illustrates the insidious, essentially fascist process by which creeping government regulation molds insurance companies into civil servants who slavishly implement political decisions handed down from Washington, D.C., raising everyone's health-care costs in the process," Bowden said.
"Health care is not a right. It is a value offered for profit by physicians, hospitals, and drug companies. Likewise, health insurance is not a right--it is a value offered by insurers for profit, and often paid for by employers as part of employee compensation. Insurers, and the employers or individuals who patronize them, have a right to set their own terms of trade. This includes the right to offer or purchase less favorable coverage for mental illness than for physical illness."
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Mr. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, focusing on legal issues. A former lawyer and law school instructor, who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his op-eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.
Thomas Bowden is available for interviews.
Contact: Larry Benson
Phone: (949) 222-6550 ext. 213
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