CQ' Discusses SCHIP, Mental Health Parity, Postpartum Depression Bills

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Mary Agnes Carey, associate editor of CQ HealthBeat,discusses House Democrats' failure to override President Bush's veto ofSCHIP legislation, a House mental health parity bill and legislationthat would expand postpartum depression research in this week's "Health on the Hill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ."

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House Democrats fell13 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the vetoof legislation that would have reauthorized and expanded SCHIP.According to Carey, Democrats plan to send another SCHIP proposal toBush within the next two weeks, but they have said that they will notcompromise on the number of children who would be covered under anexpansion of the program or on funding SCHIP with a 61-cent-per-packincrease in the federal cigarette tax. Democrats also intend tocontinue seeking more Republican votes to gain the two-thirds majority,Carey says. She adds that House and Senate Republicans have offered analternative SCHIP measure that would increase funding for the programby $11 billion over five years. Under the measure, states would berequired to prove that they have covered 90% of eligible children infamilies earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level beforeexpanding coverage to children in families with incomes up to 250% ofthe poverty level. Bush administration officials said they plan to meetwith Democrats to discuss an SCHIP compromise, according to Carey.

Carey also discusses the House Energy and Commerce Committee's recent approcalof mental health parity legislation. The bill now will head to theHouse floor, where it is expected to pass. According to Carey, theHouse version of the bill would require insurers to cover more mentalhealth services than the Senate bill, which likely will createdifficulties when it comes to reconciling the two bills. The Bushadministration, business groups and many in the mental health communityoppose the House's expansion of coverage.

In addition, Carey discusses legislation passed by the House that would direct NIHto expand research initiatives and increase public awareness ofpostpartum depression. The bill would require basic research into thecauses of the condition and the development of improved screening anddiagnostic techniques, as well as information and education programsfor health care professionals and the public. The measure also callsfor a study that would explore the mental health consequences ofpregnancy outcomes, including abortion, Carey says (Carey, "Health onthe Hill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ," 10/22).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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