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Government News
How's Parity Working?
Psychiatric News
Volume 45 Number 5 page 6-6

APA's Office of Healthcare Systems and Financing has created a Web site to monitor the implementation of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (Parity Act). The purpose of the site is to make certain that health insurers covered by the act are providing benefits in compliance with the law. The law requires that any group health plan that covers more than 50 employees and offers mental health and/or substance use disorders coverage must provide that coverage with no greater financial requirements (that is, copays, deductibles, annual or lifetime dollar limits) or treatment limitations (that is, number of visits) than the predominant requirements that it applies to substantially all medical/surgical benefits.

Although the parity act became effective for most plans on January 1, regulations that explain how it is to be implemented were not published by late December 2009. Thus health insurance carriers, which had to have their 2010 plan benefits in place before there were any regulations, may have been confused about exactly what it means to provide mental health and substance abuse benefits that are equivalent to the medical and surgical benefits they offer. The new regulations become effective for plans issued after July 1.

The only way APA can know if the law is being implemented as APA understands it should be is to hear from patients and their physicians about any problems or concerns they have about a health plan's mental health coverage given the parity act's requirements. APA members are encouraged to go to this new Web site to learn more about the parity act and their state's parity law and to report concerns and questions about how an insurance plan may be interpreting the law. The Web site will be updated as more information becomes available.

The Web site is <www.mentalhealthparitywatch.org>. Information is also available by phone at (866) 882-6227.blacksquare

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