On March 29 President Barack Obama announced formation of an interagency task force to promote implementation of the mental health and substance abuse parity provisions in the Affordable Health Care.
As reported in Kaiser Health News, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy said, “…it’s troubling that it’s occurring in the last year of the presidency, and that it took the administration this long to address a problem that’s been with us for many years.”
LA lawyer Meiram Bendat, who has filed lawsuits on behalf of those seeking treatment, said that “another task force is a far cry from much-needed enforcement.” He added that “bias against those with mental illness frequently takes the form of insurance companies effectively limiting care only to crisis and refusing to acknowledge the pervasive and long-term nature of these disorders.”
Failure to enforce parity provisions affects all of us. Initially it hurts only a person with mental illness and his or her family members. But, lack of access to treatment can lead to costly emergency room treatment, loss of earning capability, involvement with the criminal justice system, and more expensive long-term care that is paid by our taxes.