Saturday, October 25, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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GOP blocks mental-health insurance bill

WASHINGTON — Marking the one-year anniversary of Paul Wellstone's death yesterday, Democratic senators failed to win passage of one of the late senator's top crusades: legislation to mandate equal health-insurance coverage for mental illnesses.

Although the bill has the support of two-thirds of the Senate, Republicans blocked an effort to pass the bill by unanimous consent, a provision generally used for noncontroversial legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said that one of the things that angered Wellstone the most was the stigma attached to mental illness, and that passing the bill — known as mental-health parity — would be a fitting tribute.

But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., sent word that Republicans would object to the bill's passage by unanimous consent.

Frist later offered his support for the bill, but said it was too complex to take up in one day and that it should come out of committee.

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company


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