Mental Health insurance expansion
Mental health and addiction treatment experts praised what they described as a "historic" expansion Friday of insurance coverage for millions of Americans suffering from psychological or substance abuse problems, five years after a law requiring the coverage first passed.
The rule guarantees that health plans' co-payments, limits on visits to providers and deductibles for mental health benefits match those for medical and surgical benefits. It also ensures equal treatment for residential and outpatient care, a long-sought benefit in the mental health community.
The rule could affect 62 million Americans, including about 23 million Americans who meet the criteria for substance abuse disorder, administration officials said.
"For way too long, the health care system has openly discriminated against Americans with behavioral health problems," Sebelius told reporters on a call after the announcement.
The new rule implements the 2008 Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
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