U.S. Enforcing Law For Equal Insurance Coverage For Mental and Physical Illnesses
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On October 27, 2016, President Obama made one more major health care initiative as his presidency comes to an end. The administration is stepping up enforcement of laws that require equal insurance coverage for mental and physical illnesses. Officials are hoping this decision will help combat an opioid overdose epidemic.
Drug Addiction Equal to Mental Illness.
The White House Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force (Task Force) said that insurers need to understand that coverage for the treatment of drug addiction must be comparable to that for mental health conditions like depression and schizophrenia. According to the administration, insurers may not require prior approval for drugs to treat opioid addiction if they do not impose similar restrictions on drugs prescribed for physical and mental illnesses.
Additionally, the Obama administration said that insurers clearly violated the law if they charged higher co-payments for mental health care or if they imposed stricter limits on the number of visits to mental health care professionals.
Federal laws and rules such as The Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA), have been adopted with bipartisan support, but the Task Force found that compliance in these laws has been slow in being implemented.
The Task Force, which President Obama created in March 2016, called for more frequent audits of health care plans and warned insurers against imposing stricter requirements on mental health services than on other types of medical health care. Click here to read the Presidential Memorandum from the White House about the Task Force.
According to the administration, about one in five American adults experience some kind of mental illness each year. Additionally, more than 20 million American adults have a “substance use disorder” involving drugs or alcohol.
The recognition and proper treatment of mental illness, as well as drug addiction, is extremely important. To learn more, click here to read one of my prior blogs.
To learn more on how others are trying to expand the awareness of mental health, click here to read one of prior blogs on this topic.
If you are a mental health care professional, click here to learn how The Health Law Firm can benefit you.
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Pear, Robert. “U.S. enforcing laws to help fight opioid abuse.” The New York Times. (November 7, 2016). Web.
Gold, Jenny. “Federal Panel Calls For Stricter Enforcement Of Mental Health Care Parity Law.” NPR. (October 31, 2016). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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