As Republicans rushed to oppose President Obama’s gun violence prevention proposals on Wednesday, several lawmakers released statements echoing the National Rifle Association’s suggestion that “fixing our broken mental health system” is actually the best way to prevent future gun crimes. But when Congress considered a landmark mental health access bill in 2008, many of the same Republicans voted against it.
Accessing mental health services in the United States is harder than accessing a gun. In 2008, Congress took a step toward addressing that issue by passing the long-delayed Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which required most health insurance plans to start treating mental health services in the same way they treat all other medical care. The bill included exemptions for small businesses and those who opted not to cover mental health coverage at all, but House Republicans still overwhelmingly opposed the effort, 145 to 47.