Federal government issues documents to ensure parity in mental health and addiction treatment

Federal government issues documents to ensure parity in mental health and addiction treatment

To cope with the increasing prevalence of substance use disorder (SUD) and deteriorating mental health of millions of Americans, the federal government has been initiating several policies and amending some existing ones. One of the most recent measures taken by the Trump administration included the introduction of a bunch of documents that take a strict view on the compliance of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). The documents would assist patients requiring inpatient treatment and care for issues like anorexia, depression or opioid addiction through health insurance and other group health plans. It also lists how someone can protect themselves from dishonest behavioral service health providers offering sub-standard services.

This move will ensure greater accessibility and quality in treatment for clients suffering from mental and behavioral disorders and SUDs. The documents were made and compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in collaboration with the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).

Documents contain report of inquiry and FAQs

The EBSA had conducted an inquiry into those health plans that violated the provisions of the MHPAEA. The packet of documents contained the report of these findings. For example, in San Francisco, a health plan that provided coverage for problems related to chronic medical health did not provide coverage for chronic behavioral disorders.

Further, it also presented a draft of answers to several commonly asked questions that would help dispel doubts related to the provisions of the MHPAEA. Another draft containing significant information from health insurers and health plan providers, which patients and other providers can access, was also provided. The documents can be used by mental and behavioral health insurers and plan providers to ascertain their compliance with the MHPAEA requirements.

Documents issued to ensure parity

In 2016, a staggering 44.7 million Americans suffered from any mental illness. Of these, 19.2 million (43.1 percent) received mental health services. Further among the 10.4 million adults suffering from a serious mental illness, 64.8 percent received treatment through mental health services. The condition of people addicted to drugs and other substances is worse with 115 people dying from an opioid overdose every day in America.

These statistics have forced the federal government to ensure that mental health and addiction treatment are treated on a par with other medical problems. For this reason, the MHPAEA, a law that safeguards the benefits received for treatment of mental disorder or SUD under group health plans, was passed This legislation prevents insurers from limiting or withholding benefits while covering mental and behavioral health services which would otherwise have been given under surgical or other physiological medical services. Further, it aims at creating parity between insurance covers for treatment of all health issues, be it mental, physiological or behavioral.

Treatment essential for better future

Addiction to any substance and mental or behavioral disorders are reasons for concern and their treatment and care should be a priority. At an individual level, patients of mental illness or SUD are more susceptible to suffer from an impaired sense of judgment and the inability to take care of themselves. Mental and behavioral health issues lead the patient to commit crimes either knowingly or unknowingly, owing to their inability to take coherent decisions. It is therefore, important that such persons receive proper treatment and care instead of prison terms.

If you or your loved one has been charged or convicted for a drug-related offense, Sovereign Court Services can help. Our Court Services Division assists such people in getting permission to attend a drug abuse rehab program in lieu of a jail term. To know more about our services and benefit from them, call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-439-7698 and speak to a representative.

May 7, 2018


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