COMMENTARY

How Will Healthcare Reform Affect Psychiatry Coverage?

Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD

Disclosures

September 17, 2013

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In This Article

A Convergence of Laws Affecting Mental Health Care

Hello. This is Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman of Columbia University, speaking to you today for Medscape.

I want to talk about something that is very important to our profession of psychiatry and mental health care and that will be happening imminently. It concerns the process of healthcare reform -- a legislative process -- and the way in which laws, which have been a long time in coming, are going to be implemented. This will have far-reaching effects on people who suffer from mental illness and our ability as mental health care providers and psychiatric physicians to be able to provide care.

In October 2008, President Bush signed into law the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). On June 3, 2013, the White House convened a conference on mental health care. All of these things are converging now. The ACA is beginning to be implemented. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act has been passed in principle but has not been implemented in practice because it has been awaiting the finalization of the rules that will govern its implementation.

At the President's White House Conference on Mental Illness and Healthcare, this was discussed. At that time, we called on the administration to make sure that the final rule as it was being written covered all of the relevant aspects of implementation to ensure that there were no loopholes, that indeed equity and parity were ensured, and that in the context of the ACA people would be provided with not just healthcare but with equitable mental health care.

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