This month marks the anniversary of the Wellstone and Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), signed into law on October 3, 2008. Behavioral health care providers welcomed this legislation. It requires group health plans that cover mental illness and substance use disorders to provide those benefits at the same level as medical and surgical benefits.
While MHPAEA was intended to eliminate unequal coverage and inequities in access to behavioral health treatment, providers and their patients continue to face challenges in making sure the law is fully understood and implemented.
Patrick Gauthier, Director of AHP Healthcare Solutions, addressed these issues in a recent presentation for NIATx, “Parity & Equity Compliance Checker: Disputing the Decisions that Affect Your Bottom Line.”
“MHPAEA was and continues to be an important victory for all Americans,” said Gauthier. “It’s as much a civil rights success story as it is an insurance reform. Viewed in relation to the Affordable Care Act…MHPAEA is our gold standard for behavioral health benefits. We should all be actively involved in its implementation and enforcement. That work must happen at the state and community levels.”
The October 15 issue of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly discusses problems with parity implementation in the article “Some payers still defy parity law with ‘fail-first’ and reviews.” Do you work with any health plans that fail to adhere to the federal parity law? If so, what action have you taken in response?