KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Administration’s Mental Health Parity Rule Is Part Of Effort To Curb Gun Violence

The long-awaited final regulation will guarantee most insurance coverage offers access to mental health services on par with physical health coverage.

The Wall Street Journal: Rules Spell Out How Insurers Must Cover Mental Health
The long-awaited final rule caps decades of efforts by psychiatrists, patients and other advocates to broaden coverage for the estimated one in four Americans who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse. It also ends mounting criticism from lawmakers who say the delay has allowed insurers to continue to impose barriers to care (Beck, 11/8).

The Associated Press: New Rule Demands Parity For Mental Health Coverage
It's final: Health insurance companies must cover mental illness and substance abuse just as they cover physical diseases. The Obama administration issued new regulations Friday that spell out how a 5-year-old mental health parity law will be administered (Freking, 11/8).

The Washington Post: Insurers Directed To Treat Mental Health Issues The Same As Physical Ailments
It also represents a fulfillment of a promise made by President Obama, who vowed to put the finishing touches on the regulations as part of a broader effort to address the problem of mass shootings, which have thrust mental health issues into the spotlight in recent years. "For way too long, the health-care system has openly discriminated against Americans with behavioral health problems. In the past, it was legal for insurance companies to treat these disorders differently than medical and surgical needs," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in announcing the rule Friday (Somashekhar and Eilperin, 11/8).

Reuters: New U.S. Rules Require Equal Insurance Coverage For Mental Ills
Most Americans with health insurance will be guaranteed access to mental health services, including for depression and alcoholism, equal to medical and surgical treatment under long-delayed rules issued on Friday by the Obama administration. But the protections do not apply to tens of millions of people, including the elderly. The rules implement the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which took on greater urgency with the administration's vow to address gun violence after a series of mass shootings across the United States in the past few years (Begley 11/8).

McClatchy: Regulation Required Parity From Insurers For Mental Illness Coverage
In the aftershock of December's shooting in Newtown, Conn., when a mentally ill gunman stormed a school and killed 20 children and six adults, Congress and the White House have emphasized better mental health services, among other approaches, as one way to combat gun violence. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the rules were "long overdue" but constitute the "single most important step to stem and stop gun violence since the Newtown tragedy" (Pugh, 11/8).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: Detailing Long-Awaited Mental Health Parity Law Regulations
Kaiser Health News’ Mary Agnes Carey and CQ HealthBeat's Rebecca Adams discuss the final rules released Friday by the Obama administration for the 1996 and 2008 laws that expanded the kinds of mental health and substance abuse care insurers must cover (11/9).

Marketplace: Mental Health Coverage Rules Could Change Business Of Therapy
The rule is pretty clear. Everything -- co-payments, deductibles -- has to be the same for mental or physical care. So you'd think Walter Teague would want to celebrate. He's been a therapist in private practice for 32 years. And he's had lots of run-ins with insurance companies. "Therapists have been burned," he says (Marshall-Genzer, 11/8).

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