Mental Health Parity Regulations Due Soon: Please Help Secure Support for Their Timely Release!

The deadline is approaching for regulations to implement parity and friends of mental health in Congress want to make sure they are issued on time.

You can help them succeed.

For health plans to fully comply with the historic mental health parity law enacted last October (the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act), federal rules are needed. The law requires the Secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury to issue implementing rules before the date the parity law takes effect (for some plans this date is October 3, 2009, and for calendar-year plans, it is January 1, 2010).

With three agencies involved in what can be a lengthy approval process, quick action is critical. Earlier this year, the agencies issued a request for information (RFI) from the field to help inform their rulemaking, but final regulations have yet to be released. See the Bazelon Center’s May 26 Action Alert for a link to our comments on the RFI.

Before the August recess, Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI,) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent a letter to the three cabinet secretaries, concerned about the delay.  Thanks to everyone who helped secure endorsements from Senators for that letter.

With a need for continued pressure on the three departments to issue regulations in a timely fashion, Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) is circulating a letter, seeking endorsements by other members of the House of Representatives. The letter will insist that the secretaries of the three departments act quickly and consider the comments that were filed in response to the request for information (RFI).

The deadline for Representatives to endorse the letter is close of business (5 pm, EST) on Monday, September 21.