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Rules Require Equal Coverage For Mental, Substance Abuse Treatment

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The Barack Obama Administration Friday issued a final rule requiring U.S. insurers to cover care for mental health and addiction just like physical illnesses.

The departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury jointly issued the final rule that increased parity between mental health and substance use disorder benefits and medical/surgical benefits in group and individual health plans, the Health and Human Services Department said in a release.

The rule implements the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and ensures health plan features such as co-pays, deductibles and visit limits are generally not more restrictive for mental health and substance abuse disorders benefits than they are for other health benefits.

“This final rule breaks down barriers that stand in the way of treatment and recovery services for millions of Americans,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “Building on these rules, the Affordable Care Act is expanding mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections to 62 million Americans. This historic expansion will help make treatment more affordable and accessible.”

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said the rules were an important step in ending the disparities that exist in insurance plans and “will provide families nationwide with critical coverage and protections that fulfill their health needs.”

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said the rules will increase access to mental health and substance abuse treatment as well as health plan transparency.

“Ultimately, they’ll provide greater opportunities for affordable, accessible, effective treatment to Americans who need it,” Perez said.

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