Tuesday, April 30, 2002
Bush calls for mental health coverage
By SANDRA SOBIERAJ
Associated Press Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. President Bush threw his weight Monday behind the idea if not the details of legislation guaranteeing equitable insurance coverage for mental health services.
The president also gave his support to the California gubernatorial candidate he tried to defeat a month ago.
Turning to domestic policy and politics after a frenzied weekend of Mideast diplomacy, Bush traveled from his Texas ranch to the University of New Mexico here, and on to Los Angeles.
At each stop, he had his eye on the November elections that will decide control of Congress and sought both to raise millions of dollars for GOP candidates and also neuter Democrat attempts to paint him as a big-business, favor-the-rich Republican.
We must work for a welcoming and compassionate society, a society where no American is dismissed and no American is forgotten, Bush said in an Albuquerque speech decrying the stigma and hidden suffering associated with mental disease.
Near the site of the 1992 south central Los Angeles riots, Bush was marking the 10th anniversary of that racial violence by touting his stalled initiative to involve religious groups in providing government social services.
And on Tuesday, he was to give a philosophical address in California's Silicon Valley reprising his 2000 campaign theme, a different kind of Republican.
Both California stops included fund raisers $4 million in all for Bill Simon, challenger to Democrat Gov. Gray Davis and the conservative Republican the White House tried to knock out in the GOP primary by forcefully supporting former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.
Some White House aides privately question the wisdom of spending presidential time helping Simon, who trailed Davis by 14 percentage points in a Field Poll released Sunday.
In New Mexico, Bush said he would try to broker a compromise this year between champions of mental health insurance parity led by Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Paul Wellstone, D-Minn. and Republican and business-sector opponents who fear insurance premiums will spike if the government mandates that policies cover mental diseases the same way they cover physical illness.
Bush did not get into the contentious details, but did say he would support anything that would significantly run up the cost of health care.
Employer groups and insurers are lined up to fight. Not one more dime. Not one more dollar. Not one more bill that raises health care costs, plead new print ads running back in Washington.
Domenici's legislation would mandate equitable coverage for a whole gamut of mental illnesses. A law Bush signed as governor of Texas ensured coverage parity mostly for severe psychiatric disorders and only on a limited number of insurance policies.
Bush pointed to that law as evidence of his record on the issue.
Any federal legislation, he said, must prevent plans from applying less generous treatment or financial limitations on mental health benefits than are imposed on medical or surgical benefits.
Specifics aside, the president's broad recognition of the current inequities means the mentally ill might finally see the day when their suffering and economic ruin might actually come to an end, said Domenici, whose family budget was strapped for years by the uninsured costs of treating his daughter's schizophrenia.
Bush named Dr. Michael Hogan, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health, to lead a new 15-member presidential commission to make recommendations in the next year on closing gaps in the nation's mental health system without spending any additional money.
Over lunch, Bush also raised $500,000 for the re-election campaign of Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.
Cinergy could blast into past
Race redrew district, tape says
Officers in cruiser shot at on Winton Terrace street
Party's over? Derby security to clamp down
Fr. Hopp out of ministry
Hospital offers quick service - or lunch
Hypnosis provides valuable police tool
Man indicted on drug charges
PULFER: Olympian is back on her feet
RADEL: High school discipline not easy as pie
Some Good News
Field narrows for Loveland position
Kilburn foes lag in funds for primary
Last call at Tag's Tap Room?
Vandals deface airport curbs
Warren deputy accused in school sex case quits
Awaiting trial, girl out of jail
Cincinnati loses OTR case in U.S. Supreme Court
Dozens arrested in drug sweep
Former police officer says he'll repay misappropriated funds
Growth plan divides council
Late state budget forces layoffs at schools
Next 4 years come down to 1 day
Parishioners meet to discuss abuse allegation
Speaker Richards eyes governor's job
Trial opens in Craven case
Wyoming says school levy a necessity
Bush calls for mental health coverage
Stratton: Some don't get justice
Tristate A.M. report