Today the U.S. Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the issues surrounding the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Parity). Chairperson Wyden and ranking member Crapo pledged to work on a bi-partisan basis to fully implement the law, passed in 2008.
NAATP congratulates Senators Wyden and Crapo and the members of the Finance Committee for holding this critically important hearing and for their commitment to making the Parity Law work as it was intended. As our members know and report constantly, patients are consistently denied access to care as the Parity law is broken or ignored. They also plan on drafting a comprehensive approach to mental health and substance use disorder issues.
During the hearing, there was a focus on the non-quantitative treatment limits utilized by insurance companies to deny coverage. Another focus was on the need to bring mental health and substance use disorder treatment into the mainstream of health care. Better training of medical professionals and early referral to appropriate behavioral health specialists who are compensated adequately was stressed.
Gaps in Medicare coverage was also discussed, along with workforce issues and problems associated with stigma attached to the disease. Limited access to care based on racial factors and geography was also highlighted. These are all issues of high importance to NAATP.
The Administration’s budget addresses many of these same concerns. Given the bi-partisan approach of the Senate Finance Committee and the willingness of the U.S. House of Representatives, Energy and Commerce Committee to also focus on these problems, we have the best opportunity to make significant progress for the field in a generation. NAATP members will play a key role in helping make those advancements possible.
We look forward to working with Senators Wyden and Crapo as they craft a legislative approach to address not only Parity issues, but also other issues impacting the substance use disorder treatment field.