Every day thousands of Americans are suffering from untreated mental health illnesses, drug addiction, and alcohol dependency because they are not being given access to the treatment they need. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Watershed helped host the Patriots for Parity field hearing in Delray Beach, Fl to fight for those rights.
Patriots For Parity
How It Affects The Addict & Alcoholic
Although the Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) was signed into federal law on October 3, 2008, health insurance companies have found loop holes in the law and oftentimes continue to discriminate against those needing treatment for mental health conditions and/or addiction. What does that mean for the addict or alcoholic who suffers?
One example of how health insurance companies are not abiding fully by the parity law is by imposing limitations and conditions on available treatment for addiction. Under certain health care plans, patients would only be approved for rehab or residential treatment if they fail at an outpatient (day/evening treatment) program first. Failing at an outpatient program of course means relapsing. After working long and hard in this field, many understand that a relapse is literally a life and death situation when it comes to the addict or alcoholic.
About The Parity Hearing
The Parity Implementation Coalition was formed to help ensure that the MHPAEA is properly implemented and enforced. The ultimate goal is for people to have equal health insurance for addiction and mental health as they have for their physical health.
Patrick Kennedy, former Congressman and chair person of the field hearing, has been traveling throughout the nation advocating for the cause. Other legislators, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch and State Senator Maria Sachs, also shared their experience and views on the importance of regulating the parity law so health insurance companies treat addiction and mental health patients fairly.
Two panels addressed the public about the importance of the parity law and why it needs to be enforced. Panel one was composed of those directly affected by the law: Margaret Moore, parent of a psychiatric disorder patient; Lori JoBaach, psychiatric disorder patient; Linsa DelPrete, parent of a psychiatric disorder patient; and Jason Johnson, drug and alcohol addiction patient. Each spoke about their experience with health insurance companies and how it affects the lives of all involved. Panel two was composed of professionals in the field of addiction and mental health disorders: Beth Ann Middlebrook spoke on behalf of The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs; Dr. Wendy Oliver-Pyatt spoke on behalf of the Oliver-Pyatt Centers; Dr. Abbey Strauss spoke on behalf of The Florida Psychiatric Society; and Irvin “Sam” Muszynski spoke on behalf of the American Psychiatric Association & Parity Implementation Coalition.
What Can We Do About It?
If you are a patient or provider who has complaints or wants to share their experience, the Parity Implementation Coalition (http://parityispersonal.org/) wants to hear from you. They may be able to help in resolving your problem or point you in the direction of other resources, depending on the complaint. In addition, your reports will help them identify potential patterns of critical concern to federal regulators.
Drug addiction and alcoholism is a disease and people deserve to be treated equally and fairly when it comes to our health insurance coverage. Together we can let others know that those suffering from addiction and mental health conditions are just as important as those suffering from any other medical or physical ailment. If you would like more information on how you can get help for alcoholism or drug addiction, contact us today at 800-861-1768!
Written by: Watershed Ashling