Agencies to Issue Interim Final Rules Under Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

On Tuesday, the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), Internal Revenue Service ist2_2667412-mental-health.jpg(IRS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will publish in the Federal Register interim final regulations.pdf under the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (“the Act” or “MHPAEA”).  These replace prior regulations, and make conforming changes to reflect modifications the MHPAEA made to the original Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) of 1996 definitions and provisions regarding parity in aggregate lifetime and annual dollar limits, and incorporate new parity standards.  The interim final regulations are effective as of April 5, 2010, and generally apply to group health plans and group health insurance issuers for plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2010.

The MHPAEA was signed into law on October 3, 2008, as part of H.R. 1424, the Tax Extender's and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008, a part of the massive financial bailout legislation.  The Act amends current requirements under ERISA, the Public Health Service Act and the Internal Revenue Code for parity in mental health benefits offered under a private group health benefit plan.  In essence, this law requires private group health benefit plans that provide mental health and/or substance use disorder benefits through a group health benefit plan that also offers medical and surgical benefits do so on an equivalent basis.  The Act imposes several plan design requirements on group health benefit plans that offer mental health and/or substance use disorder benefits including equity in cost sharing, treatment limitations, and coverage decision requirements.  The Act builds on the current mental health parity law that requires parity for annual and lifetime limits on coverage, and contains specific and narrow exceptions for small group health benefits plans and for increased costs. 

Continue reading about the specifics of the regulations at Littler's D.C. Employment Law Update blog.


Photo credit:  Rapid Eye Media

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.