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MI Groups: "Mental Health" Should Be Part of "Total Health" Coverage

May 14, 2009

Lansing, MI - There is no total health without mental health, according to a coalition of 60 organizations. They are working to convince state lawmakers to lift limits on mental-health and substance-abuse services to workers who have health insurance coverage.

Linda Burghardt with the Michigan Association of Social Workers says the limits mean many go without important services and medications -- services that are especially needed now, during tough economic times.

"The lack of a state mental-health parity law in Michigan means that people often must pay higher deductibles and co-pays for mental-health and substance-abuse services, and that they're limited in the number of times they can seek help from a licensed clinical social worker or other mental-health professional."

The coalition is pushing for new legislation that would mirror a federal law. It requires companies employing more than 50 people and offering medical policies with mental-health and substance-abuse coverage to end limits on those services. Opponents say including mental-health and substance-abuse policy coverage would be costly, but Burghardt disagrees. She says studies have shown the cost to be minimal.

Burghardt notes that the number of people who need mental-health and substance-abuse services is increasing.

"With more and more people experiencing heightened stress and anxiety and depression, it's important that they know we provide these very important services. We want to ensure that everyone has access to all the mental-health and substance-abuse coverage they need."

Tony Bruscato, Public News Service - MI