Achieving Mental Health Parity Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

In October 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law a condition that certain private health insurance plans provide coverage for mental illness equal to coverage provided for medical-surgical illness as part of an economic stimulus package, limiting more than a decade of advocacy in both houses of Congress by a bipartisan coalition of Representatives and Senators for mental health parity.

Through multiple changes in Congressional leadership, the coalition - including Senators Pete Domenici (R - N.M.), Paul Wellstone (D - MN), and Edward Kennedy (D - MA) and Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D - R.I.) and Jim Ramstad (R - MN) - stayed consistent and employed multiple procedural, political, and negotiation strategies to increase the visibility of mental health equality and advance their cause through piecemeal efforts. The sixteen-year path of mental health parity from first introduction in Congress to ultimate enactment is an instance of the effect of personal commitment, personalities and personal relationships, and also the significance of the committee structure, political party direction, and windows of political opportunity.

PUBLICATION DATE: July 28, 2011 PRODUCT #: HKS687-HCB-ENG

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