On April 6, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released a proposed rule to implement the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“MHPAEA”) for coverage offered by Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (“MCOs”), Medicaid Alternative Benefit Plans (“ABPs”) and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”). MHPAEA requires group health plans and health insurance issuers to ensure that financial requirements or treatment limitations applicable to mental health and substance-use disorder (“MH/SUD”) benefits are comparable to, and are applied no more stringently than, the same financial requirements or treatment limitations applied to medical and surgical (“M/S”) benefits. Interim final regulations implementing MHPAEA for commercial plans were jointly issued by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury (collectively, the “Departments”) in February 2010, and final regulations were jointly issued by the Departments in November 2013 (hereinafter, the “Joint Regulations”).
Since the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996, parity mandates have been enacted that reach most types of health care coverage, although what is required by “parity” laws can vary greatly. In 2001, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program implemented parity for in-network mental health and substance use disorder benefits. MHPAEA was enacted in 2008 to extend the reach and scope of parity (to include, among other factors, substance-use disorder benefits) in large group coverage. The Affordable Care Act’s Essential Health Benefits requirements now require most individual and small group coverage to include mental health and substance use disorder benefits, and these benefit must be provided in compliance with MHPAEA. If finalized, this CMS proposed rule would further clarify the application of mental health parity requirements, in this case to Medicaid programs.