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Coalition forms to drive parity compliance in 10 states

November 17, 2017
by Tom Valentino, Senior Editor
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With 2018 marking a decade since the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Parity Act), a coalition of five advocacy organizations has announced the launch of a campaign to drive full compliance with the law in 10 states over the next three years.

The Parity@10 Compliance Campaign will bring together local and national advocates, with efforts focusing on three main objectives to drive parity compliance:

  • Researching the current treatment and policy landscape
  • Conducting public and provider education about the Parity Act
  • Working with legislators, regulators and state attorneys general to strengthen compliance and enforcement frameworks

The campaign is being led by: The Legal Action Center, the Kennedy Forum, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and the Research & Evaluation Group at Public Health Management Corp.

An analysis released in June by several of the organizations driving this campaign, as well as the Treatment Research Institute, found insurers’ compliance with the Parity Act largely has been dependent on consumers reporting potential violations to state regulators, and that consumers and regulators alike have received insufficient documentation to determine whether their coverage meets Parity Act standards.

Campaign director Ellen Weber, vice president for health initiatives at the Legal Action Center, says the main goal of the Parity@10 Compliance Campaign is to “shift the enforcement framework currently in place” so that the burden is on insurers to demonstrate that their plans comply with the Parity Act before they receive approval to sell the plans to consumers.

“It is shifting the responsibility for enforcement and compliance back to the carriers, which is where the law says it belongs,” Weber says. “The Parity Act regulations make it clear that carriers can’t sell health plans that don’t comply with the Parity Act. What that means to us is that they should be able to demonstrate that their plan does comply.”

Parity@10 will launch in five states—Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Ohio—with an additional five states coming in the second year of the project. Weber says those states were chosen because they have existing parity compliance initiatives underway that this campaign can build upon.

“We wanted to be able to build on what those states were doing and provide enhanced technical assistance and guidance, with the goal that we could more readily identify good strategies that not only help folks in those states, but could be viewed as potential models for other states,” Weber says.

The campaign’s initial phase is being partially funded by: Indivior, which is the maker of Suboxone, the New York Community Trust, the Open Society U.S. Programs and the Open Society Institute-Baltimore. Open Society is funded by noted billionaire and drug policy reform supporter George Soros.

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