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Guns and Parity: The president “intends” to do something about mental health

You may have missed #22 of  the 23 executive orders President Obama signed as part of his gun control package. It’s the second to last paragraph on the last page of his plan.

• Finalize requirements for private health insurance plans to cover mental health services: The Administration will issue final regulations governing how existing group health plans that offer mental health services must cover them at parity under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. In addition, the Affordable Care Act requires all new small group and individual plans to cover ten essential health benefit categories, including mental health and substance abuse services. The Administration intends to issue next month the final rule defining these essential health benefits and implementing requirements for these plans to cover mental health benefits at parity with medical and surgical benefits.

Finally, the President of the United States says he “intends” to draft rules to implement our 4-year-old mental health parity law. It’s not a promise but after four years of the administration failing to take action on the rules, I’ll take an “intends.”

What this means is that next month – February – we are finally going to see how the government will make sure that insurance companies provide the same level of care for mental illnesses as they do for physical illnesses. That means co-pays, deductibles, hospital stays, preventive care all must be equal to coverage for physical illnesses. Draft rules will be published in the Federal Register, followed by a public comment period and then issuance of the final rules.

Insurance companies don’t want these rules. As long as there are no rules, they can play their game, their way. No referees, no fouls, no penalties. That’s the way it’s been since the law was passed four years ago.

I have been writing about parity for five years. Maybe more. In the words of former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, mental health parity is the greatest civil rights health issue of our time.

2 Comments to
Guns and Parity: The president “intends” to do something about mental health

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  1. Guns can be stolen from a legal gun owner. Crimes can be committed with other weapons (cars, fertilizer bombs). The best way to a better society is control violent content in entertainment media, such as Theater movies, TV and computer gaming. Tax violent content, R and X rated, for the mental health damage its doing. Games like Grand theft auto with car jacking and murder. Movies like Batman inspiring the Joker in the Aurora massacare.

  2. My insurance has the same copays and all. But it does not matter as there are no providers. They have a list but none are accepting “new” clients. So their method of treatment is; if you are in crisiss go to the hospital, then after, there is no follow up as they do not cover IOP or PP and there are no T’s or Pdocs accepting clients so you are once more on your own.

  3. Christine, I am in TOTAL agreement with you … and what Anne commented is unfortunately very true. What is missing and puts everything to a grinding halt are the laws which have swung so far the opposite way to ‘protect the rights of the mentally ill’ but sadly, do absolutely nothing to ‘protect’ their quality of life or the lives of those around them who genuinely care about their well-being, and society at large. Astonishing is the notion that the severely mentally ill will ‘go and get treatment’ if it were made available (following Newtown, we’d hear about improved ‘access to mental health treatment’) Again, I am in total agreement re: parity, access and availability (the enormous problem facing our nation’s military and veterans), but in Adam Lansa’s case, he was an ‘adult’, apparently the mother was’ in the process of getting her son the ‘obligatory’ treatment’ he absolutely needed, unfortunately too late. She apparently had the financial means to get him into treatment but despite what some of the commentators on various networks were saying: “it is ‘not that difficult to obligate or commit a severely mentally Ill for treatment”, is just not so. I can’t speak to other states, but here in Florida, it is almost next to impossible. There was a mentally ill woman who had been a nurse and owned a home on the very streets she was living on and a loving family who could ‘eventually’ get her off the streets for at least a few days from time to time. But then she was back out on the streets again, she’d stop taking her meds (an adult cannot be ‘forced to take medication’), so sadly she had the ‘right’ to eat out of garbage cans, sleep behind the building where I worked, and then be stabbed to death (thieves stole the social security checks that she carried around with her). The very sick (e.g people with paranoias or schizophrenia) don’t ‘believe’ they need treatment or that anything is wrong with them due to the nature of the very illnesses they have — even when they DO have access to and have gone to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist. I’m certainly not advocating a return to the way things were in the 1960’s but there really has to be a common sense point in between that needs to be considered along with everything. It is shameful that our society at this point in time, still treats mental illnesses different than physical illnesses.

    • We absolutely have to do something for the severely mentally ill – especially those prone to violence. there are very very few residential care facilities in Florida that will accept a mentally ill patient with a history of violence.


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