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Mental Health Parity Law Extended One Year

December 31, 2007
Related Topics: Medical Benefits Law, Health and Wellness, Latest News
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Congress has given final approval to legislation that extends through 2008 the federal law that bans group health care plans from imposing lower annual and lifetime dollar limits for coverage of mental disorders than for other medical conditions.

The one-year extension of the law, which was set to expire on December 31, 2007, buys time so federal lawmakers can decide whether to expand the parity law to make other plan designs discriminatory. Congress gave final approval to the one-year extension earlier this week.

A bill passed earlier this year by the Senate and several House committees would require health care plans to provide the same coverage for mental health disorders as they do for other medical conditions. For example, some plans impose annual limits on the number of outpatient sessions with mental health care therapists they will cover but impose no comparable limits for conditions treated by other medical providers.

The House bill, though, would go further and require that any mental condition listed in the psychiatric industry’s compendium of mental disorders to be covered by group plans.

It isn’t known when the House will take up the broad parity bill.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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