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News Release

EBSA Press Release: White House Announces Labor Department Outreach To Inform Consumers about Mental Health Benefits [06/07/1999]

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

For more information call: (202) 219-8921

At today's White House Conference on Mental Health, President Clinton unveiled initiatives by the U.S. Department of Labor to help Americans understand what rights they have to receive mental health benefits under an employer's health plan. He also announced the Department's toll-free hotline where the public can call to receive free copies of this information.

Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman outlined the department's public outreach initiatives to educate the millions of Americans who seek treatment for mental illness.

"We believe many workers and family members who receive health benefits on the job need more information about mental health benefits available through their employer-sponsored health plans," stated Secretary Herman. "We are trying new ways to reach health care consumers with this important information."

The administration has worked hard to promote parity for physical and mental illnesses. In 1996, under the leadership of Tipper Gore and bipartisan supporters in Congress, the Mental Health Parity Act was enacted. Under the act, private sector employers who offer medical, surgical and mental health benefits must maintain the same annual and lifetime dollar limits of coverage for mental health benefits as they do for medical and surgical benefits offered under the plan.

The public can obtain information about these benefits and their rights by calling the Labor Department's publication hotline at 1-800-998-7542. In addition, the department and other federal agencies are working through the American Medical Association, American Nurses' Association, American Psychiatric Association and other organizations to increase public awareness about these benefits.

In addition, the department will publicize workers' rights to these benefits by airing radio public service announcements and a feature column which is being distributed through newspapers nationwide.

The Labor Department has jurisdiction over several important health benefit laws which protect the rights of workers and their families to medical care, including the Mental Health Parity Act. Workers and employers can obtain the booklet "Questions and Answers: Recent Changes in Health Care Law" by contacting the publication hotline at 1-800-998-7542 or visit the website at

The booklet explains the rights and obligations of workers and employers under various health care laws. It is written in easy to understand question-and-answer format to address frequently asked questions received nfrom the public by the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employee Benefits Security Administration
June 7, 1999
Release Number