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The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act Remains Empty Promise

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at October 19, 2015

From: Law360.com – Sens. Call For Enforcement Of Mental Health Parity Law

Twenty-two senators from both parties on Thursday asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to enforce a George W. Bush-era law ordering health insurance plans to cover mental and physical health as equals.

The senators asked the secretaries to enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which they said has not been done consistently before. Health plans often fail to release information about how coverage decisions are made, leaving consumers in the dark about whether the law is being enforced, the letter states.

“It has now been over seven years since MHPAEA was passed and signed into law by President Bush,” the senators said. “This important legislation was enacted to ensure that health insurance plans cover behavioral and physical health equally. However, parity is still not a reality for individuals living with mental illness and addiction today. Our constituents from across the country continue to report denials of care and great difficulties in accessing substance use and mental health disorder treatment and services.”

The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) is a federal law that generally prevents group health plans and health insurance issuers that provide mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits from imposing less favorable benefit limitations on those benefits than on medical/surgical benefits.

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