A bill that’d give a tax break to small businesses that include coverage for mental health treatment in insurance benefits cleared a Senate committee today, and will be debated by the full Senate tomorrow morning. Republican Senator John Redwine of Sioux City says it is a good first step. Redwine says the tax credit should make businesses anxious to cover mental illness like other diseases.Republican Senator Larry McKibben of Marshalltown says handing out tax credits is a carrot rather than a stick approach.But the plan has lots of critics. Democrat Senator Tom Flynn of Epworth says it’s poor public policy. Flynn says it’s “a feeble attempt” that he says doesn’t make the grade.Republican Senator Gene Maddox of Clive also says the bill doesn’t go far enough. Maddox supports the idea of requiring all insurance packages to cover mental health treatment. Maddox says mental health problems are as serious as physical health problems for those who’re afflicted.Republican Senator Mary Lundby of Marion says mental health coverage should be part of all insurance policies, and the bill is “short-sighted and mean-spirited.” She says mental illness is not different from any other illness and ought to be treated that way. Lundby says the bill is “about making business happy with a tax break.”Lundy is chair of the Senate Business and Labor Committee, which earlier this year passed a bill that would require that all insurance policies include coverage for mental health treatment.
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