JOURNAL ARTICLE

Mental health parity legislation

Arlene Smaldone, Mary Cullen-Drill
Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services 2010, 48 (9): 26-34
20795587
Although recognition and treatment of mental health disorders have become integrated into routine medical care, inequities remain regarding limits on mental health outpatient visits and higher copayments and deductibles required for mental health services when accessed. Two federal laws were passed by Congress in 2008: The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act. Both laws became effective on January 1, 2010. The purpose of this article is to discuss provisions of each act and provide clinical examples describing how patients are affected by lack of parity and may potentially benefit from implementation of these new laws. Using available evidence, we examine the potential strengths and limitations of mental health parity legislation from the health policy perspectives of health care access, cost, and quality and identify the important role of nurses as patient and mental health parity advocates.

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