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Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2001

Capitol briefs

February 15, 2001

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Equal coverage urged for mental illnesses

Senators were urged Wednesday to join 32 other states in mandating equal insurance coverage for mental and physical illnesses.

Mental health advocates told the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee that other states have found such a mandate less expensive than has been suggested.

Others witnesses said the treatment of mental illness had progressed in the past decade, becoming a more precise science. They argued that proper treatment and detection can reduce costs, hospitalization and lost productivity for employees.

Opponents of the bill were to testify today.

The state of Kansas extended equal mental health coverage for its employees on Jan. 1. The House has already passed its own measure seeking a study of that program's cost to the state before mandating coverage for all Kansans.

Plan targets utility bills

Utility bills would show customers exactly what they are paying for, under a proposal in a House committee.

The measure would require utilities to "unbundle" the various components of a customer's total charge. The House Utilities Committee heard testimony on the measure Wednesday.

Committee chairman Carl Dean Holmes, R-Liberal, said the idea is to inform consumers, especially when natural gas prices increase.

"Natural gas is deregulated, and with that development, customers are wanting to know what the costs are," Holmes said.

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