From Dr. Broderick: Parity Law: Making a Difference
The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 is a long name for a simple concept: fairness.
When a health plan offers benefits for mental health and substance use services, the law says that the coverage has to be equal to what is offered for the medical and surgical benefits.
Dr. Eric B. Broderick, Acting SAMHSA Administrator
This is good news for people who use these services.
What exactly will the new law do? The cover story in this issue of SAMHSA News focuses on how the parity law can make a difference.
Large numbers of people who need services for mental and substance use disorders do not receive them. While there are a number of reasons for this, one is that people usually have to pay more out-of-pocket costs for behavioral health services, whether they are inpatient or outpatient.
When there are high co-pays patients tend to access services less frequently.
Access to treatment services is a critical first step in the recovery process for our increasingly diverse population. The new parity law will encourage more people to participate in treatment and start their own road to recovery.
The Department of Health & Human Services will be working with the Departments of Labor and the Treasury to develop regulations for the implementation of the law. Whether the regulations are developed in time or not, the law takes effect on health plans negotiated after October 3, 2009.
Over the years, many people worked hard to get this legislation passed. SAMHSA encourages all of our constituents to participate in the public comment process. Your voice is critical to advancing better health for all.
SAMHSA News will continue to provide relevant information as this process unfolds.