URAC Podcast Highlights Effects of Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity Act

Jun 17, 2010, 16:50 ET from URAC

Podcast Series Available at www.urac.org/podcast/ or on iTunes Store

WASHINGTON, June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The third podcast in URAC's "Highlights in Health" series was released today, exploring the effects of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in the workplace.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100422/URACLOGO)

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100422/URACLOGO)

The "Highlights in Health" podcast series, developed by URAC, the nation's leading health care accreditation and education organization, looks at emerging issues in health and wellness.

In this podcast, David Shern, PhD, president and CEO of Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net), discusses the burden of mental illness and the importance of the parity law, and Clare Miller, Director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health (www.workplacementalhealth.org), shares ways in which organizations can comply with parity and create cultures that support their employees' mental health.

"Mental illness touches almost everyone directly or indirectly. The changes created by this law provide for effective insurance coverage for this widespread problem," said Alan Spielman, President and CEO of URAC. "The podcast helps make sense of the parity law and explores ways that employers can help employees and their families get the treatment they need."

The Wellstone-Domenici Parity Act applies to health insurance contracts that went into effect on or after January 1, 2010. Under the law, employers that offer behavioral health benefits cannot require higher co-pays or more restrictive treatment limits on mental health and substance use treatment compared to medical and surgical treatment.

"Mental illness affects tens of millions of people and is one of the most prevalent causes of disability related to illness," says Dr. Shern. It is time we move beyond the misunderstanding and shame surrounding mental illness and focus on expanding access to treatment."

"There is a very strong business case for offering these benefits," explains Ms. Miller. "Currently not enough people seek care and it's extremely costly for people not to seek that care. But with very positive treatment rates, there's a good return on that investment for employers when people get access to care."

To listen to the podcast, visit www.urac.org/podcast/. The podcast will also be available on the iTunes store at http://www.apple.com/itunes/.

On June 23-24, URAC and Hayes, Inc. will partner to present "The Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Additction Equity Act: Implications for All Stakeholders." This two-day conference will take place at the Pier 5 Hotel in Baltimore, MD. For more information and to register, go to http://www.urac.org/2010MHPConference/

About URAC

URAC, an independent, nonprofit organization, is well-known as a leader in promoting health care quality through its accreditation, education and measurement programs. URAC offers a wide range of quality benchmarking programs and services that keep pace with the rapid changes in the health care system, and provide a symbol of excellence for organizations to validate their commitment to quality and accountability. Through its broad-based governance structure and an inclusive standards development process, URAC ensures that all stakeholders are represented in establishing meaningful quality measures for the entire health care industry. For more information, visit www.urac.org.

About Mental Health America

Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With a century of service and our more than 300 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation - everyday and in times of crisis. For more information, visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net.

About the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health

The Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation, collaborates with employers to advance effective approaches to mental health. It promotes the business case for quality mental health care, including early recognition, access to care and effective treatment. Learn more at www.workplacementalhealth.org.