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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
November/December 2008, Volume 16, Number 6 

Two studies conducted with SAMHSA support have been especially instructive, said Jeffrey A. Buck, Ph.D., Chief of the Survey, Analysis, and Financing Branch in the Division of State and Community Systems Development at SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). (See Recommended Reading on Parity.)

“One common finding is that parity is pretty inexpensive,” said Dr. Buck. Although the research shows that parity seems to increase the number of people using services, he explained, the resulting cost increase for health plans was a fraction of 1 percent. “We would expect to see the same kind of effects as a result of the Federal law,” he said, noting that the Congressional Budget Office reached the same conclusion.

Insurance companies seem to accept the new law, said William J. Hudock, a special expert on financing policy in the Office of the Director at CMHS. While the insurance industry doesn’t necessarily appreciate having the Government mandate certain benefits, he said, “most of them acknowledge that providing parity is not a large-ticket item and is one that has probably been long overdue.”

“With approval of this bill, we will tear down the walls of stigma and discrimination and open the doors to the power and promise of treatment and recovery. It recognizes that mental health disorders are every bit as debilitating, and just as treatable, as cancer and diabetes.”

— David Shern, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health America

Next Steps

Passage of the law doesn’t mean the work is done.

“Our work is not over,” emphasized Dr. Broderick. “Now we need to move expeditiously forward in doing our part at SAMHSA to help achieve the goals of this new law.”

The next step is to interpret the law and develop regulations laying out how it will actually be put into action.

Over the coming year, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury will craft those regulations and guidance.

Farther down the line, the 2008 law requires the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess the law’s impact and provide a report to Congress by 2012 and every 2 years after that.

The GAO study will analyze coverage rates, patterns, and trends; any exclusion of specific mental health or substance abuse diagnoses; and the law’s impact on coverage and costs.

But the law’s impact goes beyond the purely financial, emphasized Ms. Wattenberg.

“Congress has sent a message about mental health and addiction by moving them out from the shadows and into the realm of mainstream health care,” she said. “It’s a recognition that these are diseases that can be helped through treatment. That’s a big deal.”

  Women, Addiction, & Recovery  
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Conference Coverage & Related Stories

  Returning Veterans  
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Women in the Military: Overcoming Challenges

From mental health issues to sexual harassment—what’s being done to help.

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Veterans & Major Depressive Episode: New Data

Last year, more than 300,000 veterans experienced MDEs.

  Suicide Prevention  
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New Media Increase Options

Virtual suicide prevention efforts are helping.

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Lifeline Answers One Millionth Call

Milestone for SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  Training Manuals  
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This Treatment Improvement Protocol training manual offers basics on successful detox.

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Medication-Assisted Treatment

This Treatment Improvement Protocol training manual discusses treatment for opioid addiction.

  Data on Youth  
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Inhalant Use & Depression

Some adolescents are three times as likely to start using inhalants—find out why.

Mental Health Settings: New Data

Do young people get mental health services at school more often than at specialty treatment centers?

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Out-of-Home Treatment

Effective treatment options for young people.

  Also in This Issue  
logo for SAMHSA's Science and Service Awards

2008 Science & Service Award Winners

For best practices, 29 organizations honored.

Grant Updates

Awards announced.

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Advisory Councils

Five new members for SAMHSA’s Advisory Councils.

Treatment Line Gets National Attention

Oprah promotes SAMHSA’s substance abuse treatment line as a resource.

The Voice Awards logo

Voice Award Nominations

You have until March 2009 to cast your vote.

Primary Care Settings

Mental health may improve with treatment location.

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