Mental Health Parity….finally

Based on discussion on the SOS User Forum and comments on our first blog entry, the passage of parity of mental health services with those in the general health arena is a pressing issue for our users. In fact, this is a landmark event in the entire behavioral health community. There is considerable discussion in the newsletter world and in the blogosphere about the final approval of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, a bill that was rolled into the financial rescue package approved by Congress last week. Senators Wellstone and Domenici started work on this bill twelve years ago. Sen. Wellstone was killed in an airplane crash in 2002, but Sens Domenici, Kennedy and others had actively worked for passage of the bill and consider it a major part of their body of work and a tribute to Paul Wellstone.

What will the effect be for providers of mental health services? Will there be differences in effect if you work in the public vs. the private arena? What do you think the impact of this bill will be for your organization? What’s your take on this historic event?

Monica Oss, CEO of Open Minds, indicates that the legislation becomes effective October 2009 and should be implemented by most plans by January 2010. She believes the ramifications will be far-reaching and will occur over the next several years. She suggests the following impacts among others:

  • Behavioral healthcare spending currently misclassified in primary care and emergency rooms will start to be properly classified.
  • Insurance premiums will increase slightly.
  • Funding for mental health and addiction services may be distributed more between public funding and private insurance sources.

Read her entire article at http://www.openminds.com/email/ossmonicaparity100608.htm 

Vince posted NPR’s story in his comment yesterday:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95435676. You can find other stories at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/124341.php; http://psychiatrist-blog.blogspot.com/2008/10/mental-health-parity-and-financial.html

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