June 4, 2018: An editorial published in the Sunday edition of the New York Times presents a powerful analysis of why the recent call to bring back mental asylums is not sensible, and identifies three major priorities to increase access to mental health and substance use treatment, including better enforcement of the Parity Law.
Ellen Weber, LAC’s Vice President for Health Initiatives and Director of the Parity at 10 Campaign, is featured in the piece.
The Editorial notes that although it’s been nearly a decade since Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which requires health insurers to provide the same level of benefits for mental health treatments and services as they provide for medical and surgical care, the promise of this law has not yet been achieved in practice.
Ellen Weber notes that “In some situations, you still can’t get into a psychiatric facility unless you are suicidal or otherwise near death,” adding “That’s an abhorrent double standard. We don’t do that for medical or surgical need.”
The piece highlights why the current approach to enforcing the parity law is deeply flawed, noting that the burden of proving a parity violation falls on the consumer rather than on regulators. “This law is almost impossible to enforce as it stands” says Ms. Weber. “It requires a tremendous amount of information gathering and sophisticated analysis that most consumers are not equipped to take on, especially in the middle of a medical crisis.”
In response, the Editorial asks, “Why not have regulators certify that plans meet parity rules before they go to market?” – an approach that the Legal Action Center has strongly advocated, and is a core priority for the Parity at 10 Campaign.
The Legal Action Center applauds the New York Times Editorial Board for bringing attention to need for stronger enforcement of Parity Law and the ongoing civil rights violations faced by people with mental health and substance use disorders.