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Administration Issues Final Regulations on Harkin-Led Mental Health Parity Effort

Regulations result of decade-long effort to implement Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today welcomed the Administration’s announcement that final regulations will be put in place to implement the 2008 Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

“Millions of Americans—and their families—are affected by mental health and substance use disorders. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was written to ensure that these individuals can get the care they need to need to live full and happy lives,” Harkin said. “However, since its passage, patients have in some cases still found it difficult to access the mental health and substance abuse services they need, because the regulations implementing this law have been confusing or unclear.  Today’s final regulations to fully implement the law —which my good friend, the late Senator Paul Wellstone, fought so hard for—are long overdue. I applaud the Administration for moving forward with these vital regulations, and look forward to reviewing them in detail.”

Chairman Harkin played a key role in the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008 and has been a strong advocate for the mental health parity regulations resulting from that law. He has repeatedly urged the Obama Administration to finalize the parity regulations, most recently, in a December 2012 letter and again in January 2013. Additionally, Harkin was a leading voice in the push to pass the Affordable Care Act, which includes mental health and substance use disorder services as one of ten ‘essential health benefits’ that insurance companies must provide to patients.