A federal trial court will be letting the Obama administration proceed with efforts to implement Mental Health Parity and Addition Equity Act interim final rules.
U.S. District Judge Colleeen Kollar-Kotelly, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, has ruled against efforts by the Coalition for Parity Inc., Washington, to keep the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Labor Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing the MHPAEA interim rules July 1.
The MHPAEA, a statute signed into law by President Bush October 2008, will require group health plans with 50 or more employees that offer mental or substance abuse benefits to provide the benefits “in parity with” medical and surgical benefits.
The parity law now in effect allows plans to distinguish between behavioral health and general medical benefits in some ways. Under the new statute and interim rules, financial requirements such as deductibles, co-payments and limits on number of visits may be no more restrictive for behavioral health care than for general medical care.
The federal agencies released the interim rules implementing the MHPAEA Feb. 2, and the Coalition for Parity, a group organized by managed behavioral health organizations, filed a complaint April 1.
The coalition at first tried to get a temporary restraining order. When the judge denied the request for the restraining order, the coalition agreed to accept an expedited schedule and ask the judge to consider a motion to dismiss the case or a motion for summary judgment against enforcement of the MHPAEA rules.
The agencies decided they would issue interim rules, rather than final rules, because they believed they needed more time to review and consider comments, Kollar-Kotelly writes in the opinion explaining her decision.