Mansell, Engel & Cole

Letter sent to Congress targets mental health insurance coverage

If you see the surname “Kennedy” attached to a story with a political bent, you likely conjure up an image or two, don’t you?

A recent media piece concerning health care and related insurance coverage does prominently feature a Kennedy and, yes, that individual does turn out to be linked with one of America’s most celebrated families.

In fact, Patrick Kennedy is former U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy’s son, and a national legislator in his own right. He formerly served for a number of years as a Democratic representative from Rhode Island.

Kennedy doesn’t seem to be spinning his own political pedigree in the above-cited story, though. There is no question, however, that his family name does help push the subject matter into a public spotlight, which seems exactly where Kennedy wants it to be.

Kennedy’s focus is on legally mandated health coverage for mental health issues and addiction challenges. A seminal 2008 federal law (which he co-sponsored) disallows insurers that provide such coverage from offering it on less favorable terms than what governs coverage for physical conditions.

Kennedy has a beef with insurers, which he detailed in a recent letter to congressional leaders on Capitol Hill.

And that is this: He charges them with offering “deceptive and discriminatory health insurance plans” that in fact do seek to deny mental health claimants coverage for care they are legally entitled to receive.

Kennedy and other health advocates seek to underscore the dire nature of America’s growing substance-abuse epidemic and its ever-escalating human casualties. Their communication to Congress stresses that leaders “must ensure that people have access to treatment for mental health and substance use disorders.”

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