Toward Full Mental Health Parity and Beyond

Managed Behavioral Health Care Has Made Full Parity Affordable--And Therefore Thinkable

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 20, no. 4, July/Aug. 2001, p. 68-76

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2000

by Daniel P. Gitterman, Roland Sturm, Richard M. Scheffler

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The 1996 Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA), which became effective in January 1998, is scheduled to expire in September 2001. This paper examines what the MHPA accomplished and steps toward more comprehensive parity. The authors explain the strategic and self-reinforcing link of parity with managed behavioral health care and conclude that the current path will be difficult to reverse. The paper ends with a discussion of what might be behind the claims that full parity in mental health benefits is insufficient to achieve true equity and whether additional steps beyond full parity appear realistic or even desirable.

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