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November 5, 2009

Health Care Bill has key provisions for bipolar disorder patients

Last week, the House of Representatives created a new bill, H.R. 3962, which combines previous legislation passed by three House committees. This newly created legislation represents the House version of Health Care reform which is scheduled for a House vote this Saturday (Nov 7). During the past two days, two large lobbying groups, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the American Medical Association (AMA), have thrown their support behind H.R. 3962. A Senate version which combines earlier legislation that passed through two Committees is being drafted and is expected to be introduced in the near term.

H.R. 3962 addresses several key issues for people who suffer from bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses. These provisions include:

1. Medicaid expansion for childless adults who make up to 150% of the federal poverty income level, including people living with serious mental illness who currently do not qualify for Medicaid coverage in their state.

2. Expanded coverage for the uninsured through a newly created health insurance "exchange" which would be required to have mental health benefits.

3. Insurance reforms that would ensure that people with mental illness could not be denied health insurance benefits on the basis of a preexisting condition or could not be dropped from existing coverage due to their medical condition.

These are important provisions and, if you agree with them, we encourage you to call your Representative or send an email between now and Saturday. Representatives' offices do keep track off emails and calls. If you're unsure of how to reach your Representative, you can call the U.S. Capital Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your Representative. For those of you with a lot of time on their hands, you can go to Health Care Reform Bill and read the actual bill which is nearly 2000 pages long!


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