Parity@10 Compliance Campaign aims to achieve parity enforcement
In late 2017, five of the nation’s leading advocacy organizations for effective enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Parity Act) announced the launch of the Parity@10 Compliance Campaign.
The campaign is a three year effort that will unite local and national advocates in 10 states to pursue full enforcement of the Parity Act – with the ultimate goal of ensuring that the law lives up to its promise nationwide. The campaign is being spearheaded by the Legal Action Center (LAC), 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 Corporation.
Parity@10 launched in five states in 2018 - Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Ohio, with a key anchor organization working in each state in the first year of the campaign. An additional five states will be added in the second year. The campaign’s work in each state will be broad, ranging from researching the current treatment and policy landscape to conducting extensive public and provider education about the Parity Act, to working with legislators, regulators and Attorneys General to develop more effective compliance and enforcement frameworks.
Ohio's anchor organization is The Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers. The Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association is pleased to be a member of the Coalition formed by The Ohio Council to address parity enforcement in Ohio.
One of the major recommendations outlined in the final report of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis is the need for greater enforcement of the Federal Parity Act. Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the landmark legislation, which mandates that health insurance plans’ standards for substance use and mental health benefits be comparable to, and be no more restrictive than, the standards for other medical/surgical benefits. The purpose of the Parity Act is to prevent discriminatory insurance coverage for those with mental health and substance use disorders, but it must be effectively enforced in order to achieve this objective.
“Every day, more than 290 Americans will die from either a drug overdose or suicide. We cannot wait one more minute to take action,” says Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum and a member of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. “It is way past time to enforce this law. We need to move from a system that relies on people in the middle of personal turmoil to identify wrongdoing to one that is grounded in proactive enforcement of the law—involving state attorneys general, state insurance commissioners, and the Department of Labor.” Kennedy is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and was a lead sponsor of the Parity Act.
The Parity@10 Ohio Coalition is nearly finished with developing its comprehensive strategic plan identifying strategies and implementation of priorities over the next three years. Ohio's campaign will be based, to a great extent, on the findings of a report published by Milliman Inc., a national risk management and health care consulting company.
Among the findings:
- In 2015, behavioral care was four to six times more likely to be provided out-of-network than medical or surgical care.
- Insurers pay primary care providers 20 percent more for the same types of care as they pay addiction and mental health care specialists, including psychiatrists.
- State statistics vary widely. In New Jersey, 45 percent of office visits for behavioral health care were out-of-network. In Washington D.C., the figure was 63 percent.
One of the first actions of the Ohio Parity@10 Compliance Coalition was to distribute the following: