“Mental Health America (MHA) applauds the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the final rule applying the Mental Health Parity and Addition Equity Act of 2008, also known as the parity law, to Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs), alternative benefit plans (ABPs), and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
“While the final rule does not apply parity requirements to normal fee-for-service Medicaid, it does offer better access to mental health and substance use services for the thousands of individuals covered by MCOs, ABPs, and CHIP.
“In particular, MHA appreciates the strengthening of Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT), which is so crucial for ensuring that children get the care they need—Before Stage 4. The final rule is one step closer to treating mental health conditions like any other condition.
“That said, the final rule does not fully address some of MHA's critical priorities in ensuring greater transparency, stronger oversight, and more empowered consumers.
“Further steps are still needed to fully implement the parity law so that it ultimately means something for each individual in need of treatment. Several bills in Congress would help take the next step. The Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act of 2015 (H.R. 4276) introduced by Rep. Joe Kennedy, III in the House, and S. 2647 by Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the Senate, contains strong provisions to improve transparency and provide more guidance on oversight and compliance. MHA is advocating for movement of mental health reform legislation, and hopes to see many of these provisions included.
“In addition, MHA is working with several national partners including the Kennedy Forum and on model state parity legislation. The federal government can only go so far in ensuring parity - states need to step up and make sure their constituents have a fair access to the services they need. MHA and its affiliates look forward to working with state legislatures to pass the parity statute that fits the needs of its citizens.”
Media Contact: Erin Wallace (571-319-9594, firstname.lastname@example.org)