(Columbus) State Representative Lynn Olman (R-Maumee) makes no qualms about his legislative priority when talking with his colleagues in the House. For eight years now, he has introduced legislation that would require health insurance policies to treat mental illnesses on the same level that physical illnesses are treated. And for eight years, the bill has remained in committee without a vote, until Thursday afternoon.

Called Mental Health Parity, Representative Olman explained to members of the House Insurance Committee that House Bill 33 would bring equality to health insurance policies here in Ohio. Thirty-four other states currently require parity in health benefits offered to workers.

“Equal treatment is going to happen,” Rep. Olman said. “This is the first step.”

Following an impassioned speech by the Maumee legislator encouraging his fellow members to vote in favor of parity, the House committee proceeded to vote on the bill. With 11 yeah votes and 9 nay votes, the bill still needed one more vote to pass out of the committee.

“The chairman usually holds the roll open for members who can’t be in the room at the time of a vote,” said Rep. Olman. “We had the votes, but a member was out of the room and he closed the roll.”

Representative Olman said he didn’t view this as a setback to the legislation.

“History was made today,” Rep. Olman said. “This is the first vote of any kind on parity in the Ohio General Assembly. Equally historic was the fact that the majority of those voting were in favor of increasing benefits for the treatment of mental illness.”

“We got our vote, we knew the bill wasn’t going to the House floor, and we got the members on record,” Rep. Olman added. “We’ll use this as momentum for next year.”

The current General Assembly will end on December 31, 2002 when all legislation that has not passed will expire.

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© Copyright 2008 State Representative Lynn Olman. All rights reserved.


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