Thursday, July 11, 2013

Will the Government Do the Right Thing?

APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., is using the Psychiatric News Alert as a forum to reach APA members and other readers. Please send your comments to

The way that psychiatric medicine is practiced in this country—as well as the way mental health care is delivered and financed—is about to change dramatically. The president and Congress are the key drivers in this process, and the critical question everyone’s asking is this: “Will the government do the right thing?”

This is a broad question that many have asked about health care issues for years—as we struggle to improve health care and make it more accessible and cost-effective. But it’s especially important now, as we await the final rule on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was passed in 2008 but has yet to be fully implemented. The detailed final rule—which nobody has yet seen but is due out soon—will determine precisely how the law’s provisions will be implemented. Until then, we continue to have symbolic but not actual parity.

As if this were not enough, we also are in the early stages of health care reform via the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Because so much currently hangs in the political balance for psychiatrists and APA, when I was invited to a special White House Conference on Mental Health last month, I immediately cleared my schedule, as did my invited APA colleagues Paul Summergrad (president-elect) and Jeff Borenstein (chair of the Council on Communications and editor in chief of Psychiatric News).

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