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Archive: Parity

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Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

BHECON’s 2019 Themes Show Key Issues Faced by State Behavioral Health Associations

November 15, 2018 | Justice | Mental Health | Parity | Workforce | Comments

Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

The Behavioral Health + Economics Network (BHECON), an initiative led by the National Council, is winding down on its second year of activities. BHECON partners with National Council state provider associations to transform the behavioral health delivery system by increasing their advocacy capacity and breaking down silos that create barriers to services for individuals with serious mental illness and co-occurring conditions. In its second year, BHECON translated the key state issues identified by stakeholders in year one, including mental health parity, workforce and increasing access to behavioral health services, into specific policy solutions in each of the nine states currently participating in the program.

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32 States Get A Failing Grade on Parity

October 4, 2018 | Parity | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

A newly released report evaluates the strength and quality of state laws created to ensure that health insurers treat illnesses of the brain, such as depression and substance use disorders, the same way they treat illnesses of the body, such as diabetes and cancer. The report assigns failing grades to 32 states, while the state of Illinois is identified as having a model state statute. The report offers recommendations for how states can improve their parity laws to ensure equal access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

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Final Rule Expands Health Plans Exempt from Affordable Care Act

August 2, 2018 | ACA | Parity | Comments

Shelley Starkey

Beginning in October, bare-bones, short-term health plans that are exempt from critical coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will become more widespread in the insurance market. A final rule issued this week by the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and Treasury would permit the sale of limited health coverage plans that expose consumers to more risks and potentially larger medical bills when seeking critical care. The National Council strongly opposes any moves that undermine the availability of comprehensive coverage, including mental health and addiction benefits offered at parity.

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New Report Shows Mental Health/SUD Parity At Risk

June 20, 2018 | ACA | Parity | Comments

Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recently released a report “Mental Health Parity at Risk” highlighting disparities in health coverage for behavioral health services. Parity ensures that patients have access to health plans that cover mental health and substance use disorder treatment, in addition to medical/surgical services, and that they are not charged more for using such services. The report finds that parity was very weak prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) consumer protections, which limited consumers’ access to treatment. The report underscores how current efforts to weaken the individual insurance market could mean returning to a time when Americans with behavioral health conditions could be denied coverage or offered coverage that excludes services they need.

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Feds Release Parity Enforcement Tools

May 3, 2018 | Parity | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week, several federal agencies issued guidance to enhance the enforcement of the federal parity law, which requires that insurance coverage of mental health and addiction services be equal to medical/surgical health services. The new guidance is the result of requirements included in the 21st Century Cures Act to improve behavioral health coverage. The guidance released by Health and Human Services (HHS), Departments of Labor and Treasury is intended to help employers and insurers implement parity, improve the coordination of parity enforcement between the agencies and to provide Congress with recommendations for improving parity compliance moving forward.

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White House Opioid Commission Publishes Interim Report, Recommendations

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

On Monday, July 31, the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis published its interim report. It included nine recommendations President Trump can take to combat the nation’s opioid crisis, to prevent deaths and provide more accessible and informed methods of treatment for opioid addiction. With 142 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose, the Commission called on the President to declare a state of national emergency. Rumors indicate the President may make this declaration as early as Thursday (8/3) evening.

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Congress Reaches Deal on Opioid Funding, Mental Health

Stephanie Pellitt

Associate, Policy and Advocacy

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Act – a medical research and innovation bill that includes important funding for addictions. The bill authorizes $1 billion over the next two years to address the opioid crisis, and would create and reauthorize a number of federal mental health grant programs. The Senate is set to consider the bill early next week.

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White House Task Force Releases Parity Recommendations

November 3, 2016 | Parity | Comments

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last week, the White House Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force released its recommendations for improving the implementation of the federal parity law. The Task Force report details the Obama Administration’s parity implementation activities undertaken throughout the last eight years, outlines new resources available as of today, and offers a number of recommendations for future action.

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House Committee Convenes Hearing on Mental Health Parity

September 15, 2016 | Parity | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Last Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held an informational hearing examining the implementation and enforcement of federal mental health and addiction parity laws and regulations. This hearing is the culmination of conversations that took place during the debate of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act back in June. The Subcommittee engaged providers, behavioral health organizations, and consumers on the implementation of parity requirements, federal and state enforcement efforts, and consumer awareness and access to insurer coverage documents.

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SAMHSA Releases Parity Implementation Resource for States

August 18, 2016 | Parity | Comments

Jacquelyn Sommer

Manager, Policy and Advocacy

As attention is gaining around parity and the implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act (MHPAEA), SAMHSA released a resource for states that provides guidance on best practices in parity enforcement. The guide utilized input from seven states and insurance commissioners who identified five primary components that they considered essential for implementation and monitoring of parity:

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New Hampshire Study Finds Low Rates May Impede Access to Addiction Care

August 18, 2016 | Parity | Comments

Jacquelyn Sommer

Manager, Policy and Advocacy

Two weeks ago the NH Insurance Department released a new analytical report showing that in 2014 and 2015, private health insurance companies paid health providers less than Medicare rates for the most common services associated with treatment of substance use disorders. The study is a part of the Insurance Department’s broader focus on the substance use crisis in New Hampshire.

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House Approves Mental Health Bill, Eyes Now Turn Towards Senate

July 7, 2016 | Medicaid | Parity | Privacy & HIPAA | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, the House voted overwhelmingly to pass bipartisan legislation aimed at improving the nation’s mental health system. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) – first introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy in 2013 – passed by a 422-2 vote and now awaits action from the Senate before heading to the White House. On the Senate side, a companion measure was approved earlier this year but has yet to receive consideration on the floor. HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) says he is hopeful the Senate will take up that measure in September.

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House Committee to Consider, Vote on Mental Health Reform Bill

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, June 15, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will convene a hearing to consider and vote on a revised version of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), originally introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). The draft bill reflects a few changes pushed by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), including codifying a limit on Medicaid coverage for inpatient mental health care at institutions for mental diseases (IMDs) – Per the final Medicaid managed care rule – and dropping language that would loosen Health Information Portability Accountability Act (HIPPA) restrictions.

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Linda Rosenberg to Participate in Parity Discussion: Share Your Experiences

June 2, 2016 | Parity | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Friday, June 10, National Council President and CEO Linda Rosenberg will participate in a listening session with Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli. The discussion will cover issues related to parity implementation and enforcement.

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House Committee Circulates Compromise Mental Health Draft Bill, Vote Likely in June

Charles Ingoglia

Senior VP, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Monday, news broke that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) had begun circulating a revised draft of comprehensive mental health reform legislation. According to congressional staff familiar with the situation, the Chairman is pushing a modified bill including provisions from both Rep. Tim Murphy’s (R-PA) bill – Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) and Rep. Gene Greene’s (D-TX) bill – Comprehensive Behavioral Health Reform and Recovery Act (H.R. 4435).

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White House, HHS Announce Major Actions on Opioid Epidemic

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Tuesday, President Obama and the Department of Health and Human Services announced a series of initiatives to address the nation’s ongoing and growing opioid epidemic, including: expanding the use of medication-assisted treatments like buprenorphine; finalizing regulations related to parity and needle exchange programs; and announcing new grants to combat the use and abuse of opioids.

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CMS Publishes Final Medicaid, CHIP Parity Requirements

March 30, 2016 | Parity | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published final regulations outlining how the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act applies to state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs. This final rule extends parity to more than 23 million Americans covered by these important programs.

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Behavioral Health: It’s Hot on the Hill

Linda Rosenberg

President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health

In Washington, we are in the midst of the most proactive and important public policy shift in over a generation. From the implementation of the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration, to continued funding for Mental Health First Aid, to the Senate’s recent approval of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act – longstanding National Council priorities are beginning to see the attention they so rightfully deserve.

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New Parity Bill Aims to Hold Insurers Accountable for Behavioral Health Coverage

January 14, 2016 | Parity | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) has continued the work of his family, former Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), in ensuring that all Americans have access to quality behavioral health care. Through increased oversight and random annual audits, Rep. Kennedy aims to ensure that insurance providers are meeting their regulatory requirements in offering mental health services care at parity with medical care services.

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Hundreds March on Washington in First Ever Destination Dignity March

August 27, 2015 | Addictions | Justice | Parity | Take Action | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Monday, hundreds gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. calling for dignity, rights and support for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness and addictions. The inaugural Destination Dignity March focused on raising public awareness of these illnesses and the systematic discrimination individuals living with these disorders face in the public health and criminal justice systems. The march was organization by a coalition of mental health and addiction advocacy organizations, including the National Council.

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