Health insurance program expansion helps children in need

Passage of the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 provides access to mental health services for a total of 11 million uninsured children

by Government Relations Staff

February 19, 2009 — On February 4, 2009, President Obama signed into law The Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009. An expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the new law raises the total number of uninsured children covered by basic health insurance from seven to 11 million.

SCHIP is intended to provide public health care coverage for families that earn too much to receive Medicaid but not enough to purchase private insurance. The legislation reauthorizes the program until 2013 and expands funding by $32.8 billion. Importantly, the program reauthorization includes language specifically clarifying that the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 applies to SCHIP, ensuring parity in coverage for mental health services.

The APA Practice Organization (APAPO) and Public Interest Directorate (PI) have supported the bill since 2007. Despite broad congressional support, President Bush had twice vetoed similar legislation.

Regulations will be written governing the delivery of mental health services under the new law. The APAPO will be an active part of that process, advocating for psychologists' interests during the rule making.

The new law provides access to mental health services for an additional four million underserved children. The APAPO applauds Congress for recognizing the importance of mental health in health care and providing vital services to children in need throughout the U.S.