Policy Issues & Resources: Parity
On October 3, 2008, President Bush signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which included the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act of 2008 as an amendment. This law significantly expands upon the mental health protections of the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996. This Act will protect over 113 million people across the U.S., including 82 million individuals enrolled in ERISA group health insurance plans. This law helps to lay the foundation for ending the unequitable provision of mental health and substance use disorder benefits compared to general health benefits.
The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury have issued regulations providing guidance on the implementation of the Wellstone-Domenici parity law. These regulations went into effect on July 1, 2010. Information and resources on the regulations and parity implementation are available below.
Parity was also included as a central component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as national healthcare reform. As the provisions of the healthcare reform law are gradually rolled out over the coming years, the National Council and other advocacy groups are working to ensure that parity is included in all levels of implementation. For more information, see the Parity section of our healthcare reform blog.
Recent News | Parity Implementation | Fact Sheets | Official Letters | Additional Resources
- Parity Field Hearing to be Held August 6th in Chicago
- Members of Congress Urge Administration to Issue Final Parity Regulations
- In Case You Missed It: What the Federal Parity Law Means for You
Regulations providing guidance on how insurance plans should implement the Wellstone-Domenici Parity Law were issued on Jan. 29, 2010. These regulations went into effect for plan years beginning on July 1, 2010 or later. Click here to see a top-line summary of the regulations.
Parity Appeals Toolkit: The National Council, with the Parity Implementation Coalition, has released a toolkit to help you understand your rights under the Wellstone-Domenici Parity law. The Toolkit contains details on the requirements of the parity law and resources to help providers and consumers file successful appeals.
The National Council wants to make sure that group health plans covered by the law are complying with its requirements. If you suspect that your insurance plan is improperly restricting coverage of mental health and substance use disorder services:
- File an Official Complaint: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set up a Help Line to answer your questions or hear your concerns about your health plan’s compliance with the law. The number for the Help Line is:1-877-267-2323 ext. 6-5511. In addition, Department of Labor benefits advisors are available to answer your questions about the parity law and provide assistance in obtaining your benefits. Call 1-866-444-3272 or use this online form.
- Share Your Concerns: We want to hear from you about whether your insurance provider is complying with the law. Your stories will help us monitor the implementation of the law and identify critical concerns or patterns across the country. Click here to complete a brief survey and return to Rebecca Farley at the National Council. Thank you!
- Top-line Summary of Parity Regulations
- Healthcare reform and parity
- Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008
- Letter from 40 Members of Congress to the Departments of Labor, Treasury, and HHS urging issuance of final regulations
- Parity Implementation Coalition Comments on the Interim Final Rule issued in Jan. 2010
- Parity Comments in response to the "Request for Information" (RFI) by the National Council
- Final Coalition Comments on parity in response to the "Request for Information"
- Letter to House Leadership in Strong Support of the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007
- Slides and Recording from the National Council's July 13, 2010 webinar on "Healthcare Reform and Parity: A Qualitative Approach to Enhanced Treatment Capacity" featuring David Lloyd
- Secretary Sebelius' letters to Senator Al Franken and Representative Patrick Kennedy regarding the issuance of parity regulations
- 72 Representatives Sign on to House Letter in Support of the Timely Issuance of Parity Regulations
- Send a Thank You Note to Representatives tha Signed on to Parity Regs Letter
- 26 Senators Sign on To Senate Letter in Support of the Timely Issuance of Parity Regulations
- Thank you letter template for senators who signed onto the parity regulations letter.
- Dear Colleague Letter sent to senators requesting they sign onto a letter to the Secretaries of Departments of Labor, HHS and Treasury insisting they create regulations for parity by the October 3, 2009 deadline which incorporate the concerns of the mental health and addiction treatment community as expressed by the responses to the RFI.
- Powerpoint presentation on components of the parity law
- Press Release on Passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act of 2008