“The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 is viewed as a landmark step in improving patients’ access to mental health services. The effort was bolstered in 2010 by the Affordable Care Act. The bottom line: Individual and group insurance plans that choose to offer mental health coverage now must do so at a level equal to that of medical coverage.
But the rollout has been slow. Federal officials didn’t release final rules for employer-based plans and policies offered on the health law’s marketplaces until November 2013. And how the law will affect Medicaid managed care plans that include both medical and mental health benefits is still unclear. Proposed regulations for those plans are being finalized by federal officials and expected to be released sometime this year.
Emily Feinstein, the director of health law and policy at substance abuse and addiction center CASAColumbia, has been tracking the parity law’s implementation and works with states on improving mental health and substance abuse care. If mental health and addiction services are not covered at the same level as medical, she says, there is the potential for more emergency room visits and acute care services that might not happen if people with Medicaid managed care plans had access to a weekly counseling and other mental health services.”
Kaiser Health News staff writer Lisa Gillespie spoke with her about some of the issues in play and her expectations.
Source: MedPageToday.com – February 7, 2015