New Federal Law Expands Mental Health Coverage

The Los Angeles Times reports on the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which went into effect on Jan. 1. "Passed as part of the federal stimulus package, the act requires that insurers provide mental health coverage that's no less restrictive than traditional medical coverage. In theory, the act should enable patients needing lengthier therapy to receive it. But skeptics point to several loopholes -- chiefly, that insurance companies are not required to cover mental health care at all. The new law affects 113 million Americans whose states did not already have mental health parity provisions in place. California has followed a mental health parity law since 2000 and so will not be affected." The law may change the balance between psychodynamic therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy in mental health treatment (Jaffe, 1/11).

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