Friday, November 8, 2013

Final Mental Health Parity Rule to Be Released This Morning; Web Briefing to Follow

A long-awaited final rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services providing a regulatory framework for implementing the 2008 mental health parity law is to be published at 11:15 a.m. EST in the Federal Register. The Department of Health and Human Services is also offering a web briefing about the rule that will be streamed at 12:30 p.m. EST at

"Today, we congratulate the Obama administration for taking a significant step toward eliminating barriers to mental health and substance abuse services," said CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. "The final rule for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 will ensure that our patients receive the benefits they deserve and to which they are entitled under the law."

In a New York Times article this morning, APA President-elect Paul Summergrad, M.D., is quoted saying he hoped the final rule would end “the uniquely discriminatory form of prior authorization and utilization review” applied to emergency care for patients with mental illness. “A person who has a heart attack or pneumonia and goes to a hospital will routinely be admitted, with electronic notice sent to the insurer on the next business day,” Summergrad said. By contrast, he said, if a person who is profoundly depressed and tried to commit suicide goes to a hospital, an emergency room doctor must call a toll-free telephone number, “present the case in voluminous detail, and get prior authorization.”

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a cosponsor of the 2008 law, said the rule could particularly help veterans. “No one stands to gain more from true parity than the men and women who have served our country and now need treatment for the invisible wounds they have brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.

Kennedy is the spokesperson for APA’s new PSA series “A Healthy Minds Minute” and has partnered with APA in pursuing the long-awaited release of the final rule. To view Kennedy’s newest PSA on the need for veterans to have access to the mental health care they deserve, click here.

(photo: Sergey Ivanov)


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