DATA RELEASE: Mental Health Parity Bill (H.R.1424)

Big-Money Interests Contributed  60% More To Legislators Who Voted No On The Mental Health Parity Bill (H.R.1424); Special Interests Poured $43,000 Into The Pockets Of Members Of The House Of Representatives

MAPLight.org Web site Provides Unprecidented Government Transparency by Using Customized Mashup Technology Incorporating GovTrack and Center For Responsive Politics (CRP) Data

BERKELEY, CA, March 11, 2008 - MAPLight.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization supporting government transparency, accountability, and reform; shining a much needed light on our broken system of money-dominated politics.

MAPLight.org SPOTLIGHT:

Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (H.R. 1424) - Private health insurers generally provide less coverage and demand higher co-payments for treatment of mental illnesses than for treatment of other medical conditions. The new legislation just passed requires group health insurance plans to put coverage benefits for mental health and substance-related disorders on equal footing with coverage for physical ailments by offering the same terms for deductibles, limits on hospital stays and outpatient visits, and co-payments, among other things. The bill does not apply to health plans sponsored by an employer with 50 or fewer employees. The Senate passed a similar bill requiring parity. Federal law now allows insurers to discriminate. For more about the bill visit: WHIP Pack /HR 1424.

Opponents--such as Accident and Health Insurance, Chambers of Commerce, Restaurant and Manufacturing, Retail and Wholesale Trade gave an average of $22,693 to legislators who voted No on this bill, compared to $14,183 to legislators who voted Yes. The disparity is 60% more money given to a No vote, $8510.

Supporters--such as Health and Welfare, Mental Health care-givers, Mental Health Services, Clergy and Non-profit--gave an average of $4,242 to legislators who voted Yes on this bill, compared to $1,812 to legislators who voted No. The disparity is 134% more money given to a Yes vote, or $2,430.

HR1424Votes

"MAPLight.org reveals how contributions correlate with legislation so that citizens have key information needed to draw their own conclusions about how campaign contributions affect policy," said Dan Newman, MAPLight.org's executive director. "Campaign contributions are only one factor affecting legislator behavior and the correlations we highlight between industry and union giving, and legislative outcomes, does not show that one caused the other, and we do not make this claim. We do make the claim, however, that campaign contributions bias our legislative system. Simply put, candidates who take positions contrary to industry interests are unlikely to receive industry funds and thus have fewer resources for their election campaigns than those who vote in favor."

What We Do: 

We track all campaign contributions given to members of Congress and how every member of Congress votes on every bill, revealing connections between money and politics that were never before possible to see. Our concise graphs show correlations between money and votes and timelines of contributions and votes showing specifics about when legislators received large donations before and after a vote. We push for greater transparency in our political system.

Our Research Data:

MAPLight.org’s research department uses Web 2.0 data mashup technology to combine three data sets: campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org), special interest support and opposition for each bill in congress (MAPLight.org research team), and legislative voting records and bill information (GovTrack.us).

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MAPLight.org has developed a customizable Presidential Money Race Widget and a Congressional Money Race Widget for every candidate running for the House or Senate. The widgets allow users to track presidential and congressional campaign contributions on blogs, media sites, and personal Web sites, and receive real-time updates moments after data is released by the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). To be notified when MAPLight.org releases more widgets, visit Widget Info Sign Up.

About MAPLight.org:

MAPLight.org is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Berkeley, California. Its search engine at MAPLight.org illuminates the connection between Money And Politics (MAP) via an unprecedented database of campaign contributions and legislative outcomes. Data sources include:  GovTrack.us; Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org); Federal Election Commission (FEC); and National Institute on Money in State Politics. Support and opposition data is obtained through testimony at public hearings, proprietary news databases and public statements on the websites of trade associations and other groups. To learn more visit MAPLight.org. If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.

Editors Note:

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Media Contact

Pamela Behrsin
Communications
Office: (510) 868-0894
pamela@maplight.org