Ohio legislature close to giving Taft a mental health parity bill

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the failure of the Ohio State Senate to attach an amendment regarding mental health parity to a small business-oriented bill.

My complaint focused on the ridiculousness of the process: how one state senator (Stivers) insisted that he was sympathetic and offered to have it discussed in his committee, but then, when another senator (Fingerhut) took him up on that offer, Stivers voted nay to allow the amendment to come to his committee for discussion – along with tabling the small business bill. One commenter told me that I had no clue, and that was it. I suspect it might have been Sen. Stivers, and I also know that I might not have a clue – but that’s not for lack of trying. It’s because the process is so darn everything but transparent.

With great hope, I am passing on this news from Gongwer:

A logjam over a long-sought mental health insurance parity bill broke in the lame-duck legislative session Tuesday when Senate President Bill Harris said lawmakers would try to deliver it to Gov. Bob Taft before the end of the year.

Gongwer details how James Spada, son of my state senator, Bob Spada, testified in the hosue and senate today, in addition to others, in regard to his health and success. He was diagnosed as bipolar three years ago. He is employed as a senior credit analyst with Bank of America.

The news report indicates, among many issues be handled simultaneously to get this thing done, that Senator Stivers, the Senate Insurance Committee Chair, says that there is enough support in his committee to pass the legislation, but he still possesses skepticsm because the bill doesn’t cover as many Ohioans as he says he’d like to see covered.

However, Senate President Bill Harris wants to send something to Governor Bob Taft, even if Ohio can’t fix some of the federal exclusions under ERISA-based plans and even though there is a veto threat because Taft views these mandates as impermissibly driving up business costs.

The fear of the Republicans is that Governor-elect Ted Strickland will rally the legislature and get an even more expansive mental health parity bill to sign.

On the House side, Speaker Jon Husted says that he believes he’s minimized the negatives for business as much as possible and that the house bill they have now represents “good public policy.”

Amen. Now pass that thing.

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