The meeting brought together more than 35 groups representing psychiatry, addiction medicine, other medical fields, social work, psychology, and patient-advocacy groups to discuss the final rule and develop an action plan around three core issues related to implementation of the MHAPEA: education, compliance/disclosure/enforcement, and issues related to Medicaid and the SCHIP program. (The final rule does not extend to Medicaid and SCHIP.)
APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., emphasized the need for unity across all disciplines in helping to ensure enforcement of the parity law; he also especially emphasized that substance abuse and addictions are to be included in parity coverage. And the South African-born Levin also used the occasion—the day after the death of Nelson Mandela—to commemorate the antiapartheid leader and said Mandela served as a model for how to stand up against discrimination.
APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., told representatives that the present time marks a pivotal moment in history for the equitable treatment of patients with mental illness and substance abuse. “We are at the best time ever in terms of being able to provide care…and at this point, we are really uniquely advantaged in terms of possibilities…. We have a tremendous research capacity we have never had before, and it is progressing at an accelerated rate. We have tremendous prospects…. It’s up to all of us to make the most of [this moment].”
To watch a video of Lieberman discussing the meeting, click here.
(photo: David Hathcox)