Mental Health Parity Regulations to be Published This Week

The Obama Administration has announced that the final regulations implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) will be published in the Federal Register this week.  The law is a significant breakthrough for ensuring that large group health insurance plans that offer mental health and substance abuse coverage do not impose less favorable benefit limits than what is applied to medical or surgical coverage.  This will mean that the treatment limitations or cost sharing cannot be significantly more limiting than what is applied to other medical benefits.  The law applies mainly to non-Federal governmental plans with more than 100 employees and to group health plans of private employers with more than 50 employees.  Disability advocates had been urging the Department of Health and Human Services to finalize these regulations to help clarify how this law will be implemented and to help define how it will interact with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA included mental health and substance abuse coverage as one of the ten essential health benefits that must be provided by plans sold in the new marketplace.

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