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Surprising Science

Mental Healthcare at Stake in Election 2012

While the presidential candidates have been quiet about their mental health agendas, President Obama is the clear choice for those concerned with mental health parity. 

What’s the Latest Development?

An estimated 40 million Americans currently suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, representing a substantial voting block in this year’s election. But the stigma attached to mental health persists and neither candidate has made treating mental disorder a top campaign priority. Still, President Obama is the best candidate for those concerned about mental health issues, says mental health author Julian Garey. Thanks to the Mental Health Parity bill, which Obama signed into law, insurance companies that include mental health coverage must treat mental illness in the same way they do any other illness.

What’s the Big Idea?

Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, will require nearly every insurance carrier to “cover mental health treatment in some form and preventing insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition, including mental illness.” Obama has also increased the National Institute of Mental Health’s research budget for 2013. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has pledged to repeal Obamacare, which would result in millions of Americans losing insurance for their mental health conditions. And, according to Garey, Romney would likely roll back any increases to the NIMH’s research budget. 

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