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Miller & Chevalier Mental Health Parity Teleconference

On February 2, 2010, the Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued interim final regulations under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).  Miller & Chevalier held a teleconference to review the new requirements, with a focus on compliance issues for employer-sponsored health plans.

The MHPAEA took effect for plan years beginning on or after October 3, 2009 (with a delayed effective date for collectively bargained plans). Therefore, many plan sponsors have already reviewed and revised their plans based on an interpretation of the statutory language. The regulations generally take effect for plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2010 and will require plan sponsors to once again review their plans to ensure they are in compliance. To apply the parity requirements to plan terms expressed as numbers (e.g., copayments, deductibles, limits on covered visits), each year the plan sponsor must perform a new calculation on a per benefit type, per benefit level, per classification, per coverage unit basis. Depending on the plan design, the calculation could range from simple to very complex. As it is doubtful that plan sponsors would have anticipated that the agencies would take this approach, it is likely that previous efforts to comply with the rules will have fallen short of these new standards. Additional rules apply to non-quantitative limits, such as medical management practices, which are also more restrictive than most people were expecting.