HARRISBURG, Pa., March 8, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of Governor Wolf's ongoing initiative to fight the opioid and heroin crises, several state agencies have been chosen to participate in the federal government's Commercial Parity Policy Academy, designed to help states better protect consumers through enforcement of federal laws requiring parity between insurance coverage of mental health and substance use disorders and physical health coverage.
"The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), which has been adopted into Pennsylvania state law, and the Affordable Care Act both require that mental health and substance use disorder treatments be provided by insurers at parity with physical health coverage, and this requirement is vital for many thousands of Pennsylvanians who need this coverage," Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller said. Between Governor Wolf's expanded Medicaid coverage and individual health insurance policies bought through the federal exchange at www.healthcare.gov, about 175,000 Pennsylvanians are receiving substance use disorder services. This is in addition to individuals covered under employer policies.
The Parity Policy Academy, conducted by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, will provide state officials with assistance in better enforcing these laws to protect consumers. The Academy began this month, and runs through August, and includes virtual meetings, one-on-one coaching, and an in-person forum. In addition to the Insurance Department, other state agencies taking part in the Parity Policy Academy include the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Department of Health, and the Department of Human Services.
"In Pennsylvania, we regulate the forms for plans sold to individuals and small employers, and this year will begin reviewing the forms for plans sold to large employers, to ensure benefits are properly communicated to consumers," Commissioner Miller said. She said her department also enforces parity laws through market conduct examinations, which review how insurers are complying with state and federal laws, investigates complaints by consumers, and works to educate consumers about their benefits.
Commissioner Miller said her department will also be using a $529,000 federal grant under the Health Insurance Enforcement and Consumer Protections Grant Program to beef up parity implementation and enforcement. Miller added being able to share what Pennsylvania is doing and get ideas from other states and federal officials is a benefit of the Parity Policy Academy which should benefit Pennsylvania consumers.
The Wolf Administration, with the support of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, will continue to coordinate efforts to implement and enforce the laws requiring parity for mental health and substance use disorders.
"Substance use disorder services are now being provided for 175,000 Pennsylvanians at parity with physical health services because of the coverage they receive under the Affordable Care Act, and I urge the Trump Administration and Congress to consider these people and how important this coverage is to them, as they debate any changes to this law."
MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman - 717-787-3289
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wolf-administration-strengthening-mental-health-and-substance-use-disorder-insurance-protection-through-federal-training-on-parity-compliance-300420260.html
SOURCE Pennsylvania Insurance Department