In a move that garnered extensive media coverage over the weekend, the Washington Post (11/9, Somashekhar) reported that the Obama Administration fulfilled a promise Friday when it issued a final rule on parity in mental health and substance-abuse treatment, a rule long in the making that also is part of the Administration’s response to mass shootings and mental illness. HHS Secretary Sebelius said in announcing the rule Friday, “For way too long, the healthcare system has openly discriminated against Americans with behavioral health problems. In the past, it was legal for insurance companies to treat these disorders differently than medical and surgical needs,” but “we are finally closing those gaps in coverage.” The rule will give patients information on insurance treatment standards and will provide coverage typical of any physical condition for some “gray-area treatments.” The rules will apply to almost all forms of insurance.
APA Applauds Final Rule. Modern Healthcare (11/8, Subscription Publication) reported that advocates for people with mental illnesses praised Friday’s “long-awaited” final rule on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 “requiring insurers to cover mental healthcare on the same basis as physical healthcare services.” Modern Healthcare quoted American Psychiatric Association president Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, who said, “The final rule provides a crucial step forward to ensure that patients receive the benefits they deserve and are entitled to under the law.”
— “Insurers directed to treat mental health issues the same as physical ailments, “Sandhya Somashekhar, The Washington Post, November 8, 2013.