Mental Health Parity Toolkit

On October 7 the National Council announced the release by The Parity Implementation Coalition of a toolkit aimed at helping consumers of mental health services deal with their insurance companies. The National Council, a member of the Coalition, has made the 60-page booklet available on their web site. This toolkit is aimed at providers, consumers, and their advocates.

I believe many people expected that the implementation of the Wellstone-Domenici Parity Law would be resisted by payers. Now that the final rule for how to implement the law is in place, there are clear procedures to follow…for the insurers, for providers and for the consumers of care.

This new toolkit includes background information on the law, a detailed outline of the claims appeal process, sample requests for medical necessity determination, templates for letters and detailed instructions about how to use everything in the kit. This looks like a tool that every behavioral health organization . . . community-based and private practice . . . should have on hand to share with clients.

Parity Implementation Coalition members include the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (www.aacap.org), the American Psychiatric Association (www.psych.org), the American Society of Addiction Medicine: (http://www.asam.org), the Betty Ford Center: (http://www.bettyfordcenter.org), Hazelden Foundation (http://www.hazelden.org/web/public/publicpolicy.page), Faces and Voices of Recovery (http://www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/about/campaigns/equity_main_page.php), Mental Health America (http://takeaction.mentalhealthamerica.net/site/PageServer?pagename=Equity_Campaign_parity_legislation), National Alliance on Mental Illness (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Issue_Spotlights&Template=/TaggedPage/Tag), National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (http://www.naphs.org/), National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (http://www.thenationalcouncil.org/cs/public_policy/resources_and_issues/parity), and Watershed Addiction Treatment Centers (www.thewatershed.com).

I think all these organizations deserve our thanks for working together to create the toolkit. Please see page 4 of the brochure for their acknowledgements of sources and people who were involved in the project.

What experiences have you been having relative to parity in your organization? Does your state have additional requirements that must be followed? Do you see a use for this toolkit by your consumers?

Please share your experiences and other comments below.

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