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Mental health bill advances

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Insurance companies would have to provide the same coverage for mental health -- but not drug addiction -- as they do for physical conditions under a bill given tentative House approval.

Current law lets insurance companies charge extra for mental health coverage in the policies they write in Missouri. Some lawmakers have been working for the past couple of years to end that practice. Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia, the bill's sponsor, said during Tuesday's debate: "We are saying the brain is just as important as the foot."

The House gave the bill initial approval after amending it to delete a section mandating coverage for treatment of chemical dependency.

"I don't view chemical dependency the same way I would mental illness," said the amendment's sponsor, Rep. Bill Luetkenhaus, D-Josephville.

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