Thursday, October 24, 2013

HHS Secretary Praises Parity Law, Says Final Rule to Be Issued Soon

The United States is approaching a long-sought mental health milestone, said Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius in Boston last night. “HHS will be getting the final parity rule out shortly,” she said, speaking to a packed audience at a Kennedy Forum gala held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The event commemorated the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the Community Mental Health Act of 1963. “The parity rule, in conjunction with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, will result in the largest expansion of behavioral health care in a generation,” Sebelius stated.

APA was represented at the event by President Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., President-elect Paul Summergrad, M.D., and CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D.

Vice President Joe Biden also spoke at the event and lauded advances in brain research, but he noted that the persistence of stigma toward mental illness and its treatment keep people who need care from seeking it. “There are treatments for mental illness and substance abuse that go unused, and so many people still suffer silently,” Biden emphasized. “Too many young people never get connected with mental health care. And it’s not only the individual that suffers but the entire family.”

Former member of Congress and long-time mental health care advocate Patrick Kennedy also addressed the forum. “In 1963, the mentally ill were relegated to the shadows, and Americans with disabilities were institutionalized and told they’d never recover," he said. "President Kennedy said this was outright discrimination and wanted to return mental health care to the mainstream of American medicine. Together we must ensure not only the quality of mental health care but also the equality of that treatment."

To view a video of APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., discussing the Community Mental Health Act, as well as the recent parity law and the Affordable Care Act, click here.

(Image: Aaron Levin)


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