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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New Addiction Parity Rules Round the Corner

The uphill battle for equality with addiction and mental health patients, championed by Patrick Kennedy, may soon be at an end. New rules from the federal government, requiring parity between treatment for mental and physical illness expanding access to care, should be going into effect soon.

“This has been anxiously and long awaited,” Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, President of the American Psychiatric Association, told NBC News. “Everything we’ve heard gives us a lot of encouragement. We just hope the rule goes far enough.”

Lieberman's organization will review the new regulations, determining the information insurers will be required to reveal about their coverage criteria. They will also be looking at how the new rules will be enforced.

Just about every form of health insurance should cover illnesses that have long been treated unfairly. The new rules are the result of the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Health care plans will no longer be able to restrict patients to in-state substance abuse treatment, giving patients the ability to go anywhere for medical or surgical treatment.

“What it means for us is that we should see more people coming into the treatment world,” said Cynthia Moreno Tuohy, Executive Director of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. “One of the reasons people don’t come into treatment is that they don’t have health care. This takes those barriers away.”
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