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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
November/December 2009, Volume 17, Number 6 

Parity Law: Lessons Learned from California

A new article, published in the December 2009 issue of the journal Psychiatric Services, examines experiences with implementing California’s mental health parity law and discusses implications for the Federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. SAMHSA’s Jeffrey Buck, Ph.D., is one of the article’s authors.

This act is designed to ensure that insurance plans offer mental health coverage as part of the overall health benefit packages and to eliminate disparities between the coverage for mental health and more traditional physical health conditions. (See SAMHSA News online, November/December 2008, for information on the Federal parity law.)

graphical treatment of man standing in the center of a teeter-totter

Central Finding

The report’s central finding is that maximizing the effectiveness of these parity efforts may depend heavily on educating the public about their insurance benefits.

The study in particular found that the lack of consumer knowledge of the parity law is a challenge. Nearly half of the consumer focus group participants indicated that they were not familiar with California’s parity law even though more than three-quarters of them reported that they had a diagnosis covered by the law. Providers who participated in the focus group indicated that many consumers lacked understanding of their mental health benefits before and even after the law was put in place.

This study, conducted from September 2001 through January 2006, was geared to determine how effectively the parity law was adopted (in 2000) and what lessons from this experience could be applied to the Federal parity law, which passed on October 3, 2008.

The study, “Implementation of Mental Health Parity: Lessons from California,” not only identifies the importance of raising consumer awareness of parity but also the need for increased oversight of performance of health plans in terms of issues such as access and equality.

The analysis is based on an extensive set of site visits, telephone interviews, and consumer and provider focus groups. A 14-person advisory panel reviewed the study design and analysis. The panel comprised California stakeholders and national experts.

Read SAMHSA News for continuing updates on the Federal parity law. Read the complete study.



  News & Updates  
Pamela S. Hyde Sworn in as New Administrator

Pamela S. Hyde Sworn in as New Administrator

Read more, view Webcast, and see photos.

Parity Law: Lessons Learned from California

Parity Law: Lessons Learned from California

Study may help to highlight the need for public education about the Federal parity law.

Voice Awards Honor Consumer Leaders

Voice Awards Honor Consumer Leaders

Entertainment industry and consumer leaders honored in Hollywood. Photo gallery.


  Publications  
TIP 52:  Treatment Guide to Clinical Supervision

TIP 52: Treatment Guide to Clinical Supervision

Improving counselors’ skills takes coaching and mentoring.

Guidelines: Responding to Mental Health Crises

Report offers principles for safe interventions.

Substance-Exposed Infants: How States Help

Substance-Exposed Infants: How States Help

Cross-agency, unified approach is recommended.


  Grants  
Funding Opportunities

Funding Opportunities

Call for applications include Peer-to-Peer Recovery program.

Tribal Grants Awarded

In Montana, a tribal group recently accepted a “big check.”


  Homelessness  
New Research Available on Parenting

New Research on Parenting

SAMHSA staff recently guest-edited 11 articles that focus on parenting.

Web Site Update on Co-Occurring Disorders

Web Site Update on Co-Occurring Disorders

New, interactive Web site features a library of tools.


  Adolescents & Substance Use  
“Influencers” Prevent Prescription Drug Misuse

“Influencers” Prevent Prescription Drug Misuse

Online toolkit helps family, teachers, and doctors keep teens from abusing prescription drugs.

Youth Tobacco Trends Show Decline

Youth Tobacco Trends Show Decline

Fewer youth are using tobacco products.

Perceptions of Risk from Substance Use

Perceptions of Risk from Substance Use

Age relates to teens’ perception of the danger of substance use.


  Suicide Awareness  
Suicide Prevention Update

Suicide Prevention Update

Lifeline’s Twitter, Facebook numbers rise.


  Prevention Update  
Native American Center for Excellence

Native American Center for Excellence

Recent event included a hoop dancing demonstration.



  Also in this Issue  
Gender Differences in Adolescents

Gender Differences in Adolescents

State reports on behavioral health problems presented by gender.

New Wallet Cards for 1-800-662-HELP

New Wallet Cards for 1-800-662-HELP

Order free wallet cards in English and en español.



  


Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration – 1 Choke Cherry Road – Rockville, MD 20857
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