Big Changes Coming to Mental Health Coverage

New rules require mental illnesses to be treated like physical ones
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2013 7:22 AM CST
Updated Nov 8, 2013 8:50 AM CST
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Kathleen Sebelius will reveal a new set of insurance parity rules today that require insurers to treat mental illness just as they would any physical illness, The Hill reports. The regulations will affect the majority of Americans with insurance, and among other things, they will ensure soldiers with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD have available treatment, says former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a longtime activist for the changes. But the new rules are also crucial to President Obama's plan to curb gun violence, the New York Times reports, since treatment for those with mental illness could reduce killings.

The move means the administration has now acted on all 23 executive actions it announced earlier this year to reduce gun violence. "We feel actually like we've made a lot of progress on mental health as a result in this year, and this is kind of the big one," a senior administration official says. "This is kind of the final word on parity." The regulations put into practice 2008's Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act, which should end "a lengthy period of uncertainty," The Hill notes, the costs of which "have been tremendous," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said at a Senate hearing yesterday. "In mental health, uncertainty kills." (Read more Kathleen Sebelius stories.)

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