Parity Protection a Key Tenet of Biden Behavioral Healthcare Plan

Ron Manderscheid, PhD

Over the past month, I have presented commentaries on the overall behavioral healthcare plan developed by President Joe Biden, as well as 2 of the plan’s components—extension of behavioral healthcare into new settings and expansion of the behavioral healthcare workforce. Today, I would like to describe the third component of this plan—extension of parity protection and guaranteed visits without copays.

First, let me offer a little background. The Wellstone and Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of

2008 (MHPAEA) is a federal law that generally prevents group health plans and health insurance issuers that provide mental health and substance use disorder benefits from imposing less favorable benefit limitations on those benefits than on medical/surgical coverage.

In 2014, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) expanded this protection. New individual market and small group plans were required to cover 10 essential health benefit categories, including mental health and substance use disorder services, and also to cover them at parity with medical and surgical benefits. These provisions also extended to the Medicaid benefits offered through the ACA state Medicaid expansions, which are gradually being implemented in most states. Read more . . .

Ron Manderscheid is the former president and CEO of NACBHDD and NARMH.