Apply the federal Parity Law to all health coverage

Parity, Coverage, & Equitable Access
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social determinants of health
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Active Military
American Indian/Alaskan Native
Older Adults
Coverage & Standards
Parity/Treatment Limitations
Federal department
Health and Human Services
house committees
House Armed Services Committee
House Energy and Commerce Committee
House Natural Resources Committee
senate committees
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
Senate Armed Services Committee
Senate Indian Affairs Committee


The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) should apply to all health coverage in the United States. Existing major gaps in MHPAEA’s protections include Medicare Fee-for-Service, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid Fee-for-Service, TRICARE, and the Indian Health Service (IHS).[1][2][3] Additionally, the federal government should strengthen MHPAEA’s existing protections by finalizing its proposed rule released in July 2023.


The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA or Parity Law) requires equity in coverage between mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) and medical/surgical benefits.[4][5] When passed in 2008, the MHPAEA applied only to group health plans and group health insurance.[4][5] However, in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) amended the law to include the individual health insurance market.[4][5] While the MHPAEA has significantly improved access to MH/SUD coverage for millions of Americans, several gaps persist. Tens of millions of Americans who receive health coverage through Medicare, fee-for-service Medicaid, TRICARE, and the Indian Health Service (IHS) are not covered by the Parity Law, leaving individuals with health insurance through these programs open to discrimination.[5][6][7] Parity protections shouldn’t apply only to a subset of Americans based on the type of insurance they have. Everyone deserves to receive equal coverage of mental health and addiction treatment services.[6]

In addition to expanding the MHPAEA’s applicability, the existing regulatory rules need to be updated and strengthened. In July 2023, the Departments of Health, Treasury and Labor issued a proposed rule that would require health plans to act when there are disparities in consumers' ability to access care, require data reporting to evaluate plans' compliance, and would create new rules regarding "network composition" to address whether individuals can access care within plan networks.[8] The administration should work quickly to finalize the proposed regulation and implement these new protections.


1. Mental Health America. Position Statement 15: Parity in Health Insurance. Last Updated June 13, 2019.

2. CEO Alliance for Mental Health. A Unified Vision for Transforming Mental Health and Substance Use Care. Last Updated August 2022.

3. Bipartisan Policy Center. Tackling America’s Mental Health and Addiction Crisis Through Primary Care Integration (Task Force Recommendations). Last Updated March 2021.

4. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).(n.d.)

5. The Kennedy Forum. What is Parity? (n.d.)

6. The Kennedy Forum. Q&A With David Lloyd: Chief Policy Officer of the Kennedy Forum. Last Updated August 22, 2022.

7. Kaiser Family Foundation. Mental Health Parity at a Crossroads. Last Updated August 18, 2022.

8. The Kennedy Forum. The Kennedy Forum Leads Advocates in Supporting Historic Opportunity to Expand Access to Care. Last Accessed July 30, 2023.