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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mental Health and Addiction Parity Public Forums

The seal of the United States Department of Labor
The seal of the United States Department of Labor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to the US Department of Labor' website The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) 'requires group health plans and health insurance issuers to ensure that financial requirements (such as co-pays, deductibles) and treatment limitations (such as visit limits) applicable to mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits are no more restrictive than the predominant requirements or limitations applied to substantially all medical/surgical benefits. Under MHPAEA, if a plan or issuer that offers medical/surgical and MH/SUD benefits imposes “financial requirements” (such as deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and out of pocket limitations), the financial requirements applicable to MH/SUD benefits can be no more restrictive than the “predominant” financial requirements applied to “substantially all” medical/surgical benefits.'

This Summer Congressional Forums are taking place across the United States to continue the discussion to urge federal regulators to fully equalize mental health and addiction benefits with other medical health care benefits. Participants will include lawmakers, mental health advocates and patients.

These forums are nicknamed "Patriots for Parity". The next forum will take place on August 6, 2012, 5:00PM - 7:00PM at the Union League Club of Chicago, 65 West Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604. These forums help illustrate the kinds of problems patients continue to face as they try to seek treatment for mental health and addiction issues.

For our readers who are located in the greater Los Angeles area the Parity Field Hearing will take place on September 18, 2012, 6:30PM - 8:30PM at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles, 617 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017.  In attendance will be The Honorable Mary Bono Mack, The Honorable Patrick Kennedy, The Honorable Grace Napolitano and The Honorable Jim Ramstad.

These forums offer the public an opportunity to express their concerns for the record and to hear directly from lawmakers and caregivers. It is important to remember that approximately 54 million Americans live with mental illness; 26 million live with the disease of addiction.  Additionally a large number of these Americans suffer from co-occurring mental illnesses and addictions.

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