City of Everett restricts mental health coverage for employees | Letter

Feb 04, 2016

Editor, The Beacon:

Congress passed the Mental Health Parity Act in 2008, and the State of Washington has had a Mental Health Parity law since 2005.

“Parity” is the recognition of mental health conditions as equal to physical illness. Mental health treatment was historically covered at far lower levels in health insurance policies, if at all.

The City of Everett, year after year, under a loophole in the law, makes an election to not comply with the Mental Healthy Parity laws. This means that employees covered by the city’s health insurance plan only have limited insurance coverage for mental health treatment.

Why would the city choose to discriminate against their employees and their families who struggle with mental illness?

The answer provided to me by the mayor’s office was: The law allows it – We checked with other cities and found some other cities who do the same thing (e.g.Bellevue, I was told), and it saves the City of Everett money.

People with brain dysfunction, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, need to be strongly encouraged and supported to seek and sustain treatment.

The city’s policy on limiting access to mental health coverage is completely inconsistent with efforts to prevent violence and homelessness.

The city should be committed to removing barriers to mental health treatment – not creating them.

 

Jennifer DeHaan Rinaldi,

Edmonds

 

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