Des Moines Demand Treatment! Demands Parity

Members of the Des Moines (Iowa) Demand Treatment! leadership team are taking an active role in Iowa's newest push for parity.

State Representative Wayne Ford was one of 38 Democrats who sponsored legislation that will provide comprehensive insurance coverage for treatment of alcohol or other drug disease. Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack has also called on lawmakers to approve legislation, the Quad-City Times reported January 28.

Additionally, Marcy Hoerster, project coordinator for Des Moines Demand Treatment!, recently visited the Iowa statehouse, where she spent a day distributing literature about addiction and treatment. “We had some legislators stop by, and we were able to have some productive dialogue,” she said. She also attended a breakfast for legislators sponsored by the Iowa Substance Abuse Program Directors' Association.

Representative Ford is pressing the parity issue nationally as well. In December, he successfully passed a resolution by the National Caucus of State Black Legislators calling for parity in all states. “If we truly want to rid our nation of drugs, we must provide treatment,” he said.

The resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS, an estimated 6.4 percent of African-Americans 12 years of age and older in the United States in the year 2000 had used an illicit drug during the past month; and

WHEREAS, addiction to alcohol and other legal and illegal drugs is recognized by the American Medical Association as a chronic medical condition like asthma, hypertension, and diabetes; and

WHEREAS, studies show that treatment for addiction is as effective as or more effective than treatment for other chronic medical conditions; and

WHEREAS, non-Hispanic Blacks constituted 23 percent of admissions to publicly-funded substance abuse treatment facilities in the 1999 Treatment Episode Data Set although they made up 12 percent of the U.S. population; and

WHEREAS, medical insurance benefits for addiction are not at parity with those for other chronic medical conditions; and

WHEREAS, studies conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimate that comprehensive parity would increase family insurance premiums by approximately one percent annually.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE 26th ANNUAL LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE OF THE NATIONAL BLACK CAUCUS OF STATE LEGISLATORS, ASSEMBLED IN INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, DECEMBER 9 – 14, 2002, that the National Black Caucus of State Legislators supports the following measures:

1. Comprehensive parity for substance abuse treatment services be achieved by prohibiting individual and group health insurance policies from having terms, conditions, or levels of benefits that place a greater financial burden on an insured for substance abuse treatment than for a medical, surgical, or other physical condition.

2. Comprehensive parity for substance abuse treatment services be achieved by prohibiting Medicare, Medicaid, and other government-funded or government-sponsored insurance programs from having terms, conditions, or levels of benefits that place a greater financial burden on an insured for substance abuse treatment than for a medical, surgical, or other physical condition.

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