Where is Patrick Kennedy when we need him?!
Recently, the folks drafting rules for the 9/11 Compensation Fund announced that the $2.8 billion fund created by Congress last year will not cover mental health problems caused by 9/11.
The Special Master notes that as in the Fund’s first iteration, the statute limits eligible injuries to those consisting of ‘‘physical harm.’’ Accordingly, as in the Fund’s first iteration, the statutory language does not permit the Fund to cover individuals with only mental and emotional injuries, even if the mental and emotional injuries are covered by the WTC Health Program.
Apparently, the fund’s newly-appointed special master, Sheila Birnbaum, hasn’t heard about the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). I understand that the statute governing the 9/11 Compensation fund governs her duties to disburse the money to deserving survivors.
However, couldn’t Birnbaum take a stand and argue that because the brain is a part of the human body – ergo “PHYSICAL” – that “mental and emotional” injuries should be covered – especially since the MHPAEA is now the law of the land? In the spirit of parity don’t you think the government ITSELF should voluntarily commit to mental health parity when it comes to using tax dollars to provide ANY KIND OF HEALTH CARE!