Long-stalled mental health parity bill will see Congressional action Wednesday

Taking testimony
Republican U.S. Rep. James Ramstad of Minnesota, left, is teaming up with Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island to push for passage of a mental health parity bill. They held a hearing on the bill in Minneapolis recently.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

A mental health bill named for the late Minnesota U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone will get its first vote in 11 years Wednesday, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A House committee will debate and vote on the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007. It's one step towards passage of the bill Wellstone championed for years before his death.

The legislation would require health insurance plans to cover mental health and addiction treatment on a par with physical health treatment.

Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, who represents Minnesota's 3rd District, has authored the legislation for years, but Wednesday's vote will be the biggest official step it has taken since 1996.

MPR's Tom Crann talked with Ramstad about the bill.

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