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STALLED OHIO BILL AIMS TO HELP THE MENTALLY ILL

EDITORIAL & Comment 06A

I commend The Dispatch for educating the community about the plight of many parents who are forced to give up custody of their severely mentally ill child in order to get the child needed treatment (“Care or Custody?” Dispatch editorial, April 24).

Without question, this is a bizarre prerequisite, especially when the most successful treatment programs require the close involvement of family members.

Parents are forced to make this painful decision because their health-insurance policies won’t cover the cost of intensive in-patient services. However, try explaining to a child already suffering from a mental illness why he has a caseworker to cover mental illness to the same extent that they cover physical illness.

It should also be noted, however, that there is a bill pending much closer to home in our own General Assembly that would impose the same requirement. Unfortunately, progress on House bill 33, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Olman, R-Maumee, has been stalled in committee.

The most common argument used by the opposition is that parity in insurance would be too costly. However, according to an independent actuarial review of House Bill 33, implementation would result only in an increase of 1 percent to 1.5 percent in health-insurance premiums. Considering the far-reaching benefits of providing this type of coverage, it seems like a small price to pay.

Cheri L. Walter, Chief Executive Officer
Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities
Columbus

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