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WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11, 2013 – In response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement Friday of newly-issued rules requiring insurers to provide equal benefits for mental health treatment, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:
Friday’s announcement of rules mandating parity between physical and mental health coverage by health insurance carriers represents a major step forward for all who suffer in our society. The long-overdue rules, which will require most insurance plans to offer the same level of coverage for mental health and substance abuse claims as medical and surgical claims, will fully implement the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.
This policy clearly reflects our Jewish teachings, which recognize the equal importance of spiritual and physical health. As we pray for recovery in the mi she-beirach prayer for the sick, we pray for a refuah sheleimah—a complete recovery—and further specify refuat ha-nefesh u’refuat haguf, a healing of the soul and of the body.
We commend the Administration for acting to reduce the stigma of mental illness by mandating equal coverage for mental and physical health ailments. In addition, we are heartened that the Administration has now acted on all 23 executive actions to reduce gun violence recommended in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre last year. We encourage the administration and Congress to continue to work to honor the dignity of all those suffering from mental illness.
We look forward to a day when our society fully commits itself to treating mental illness with the same seriousness as physical ailments, and will continue to work to increase resources and support for those suffering from mental illness.