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Advocates pushing mental health parity, funding bills at Capitol

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Updated: Friday, March 15 | Posted: Thursday, March 14

Mental health care in schools, mental health grants for children and adults, and eliminating the use of solitary confinement for people with mental illness are among the bills mental health advocates are pushing in the Legislature this session.

Another bill deals with parity: making sure that insurers cover mental health care and physical health care equally. Advocates are hoping the bill will become law, even though it has yet to get a hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The bill has cleared the House commerce committee, but faces a March 29 deadline to win approval in a Senate committee. 

"We've always had bipartisan support on parity and so we're worried but hopeful [that] it'll pass this year," said Sue Abderholden, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota.

Michelle Benson, chair of a key Senate health committee, declined to comment on the proposals. She said she didn't know enough about the parity bill because it's not currently before her committee.  

The parity bill includes provisions designed to restrict use of certain types of treatment limitations in health plans and to increase state oversight of mental health and substance use coverage.

Correction (March 15, 2019): Due to an editing error the original version of this story misstated the committee deadline for the parity legislation. This version also clarifies Sen. Benson's statements.  

This reporting is part of Call to Mind, MPR initiative to foster new conversations about mental health.