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October 7, 2009

Applying Health Care Reform Principles to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the White House, Washington, DC (Dr Patel); and Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, the Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine and UCLA School of Public Health, and the RAND Health Program, Los Angeles, California (Dr Wells).

JAMA. 2009;302(13):1463-1464. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1446

The US political system is debating the desirability and feasibility of health care reform. Discussions focus on expanding coverage while reforming delivery to contain costs and ensure quality,1 but there has been little discussion about how to apply reform principles to mental health and substance abuse (MHSA) conditions and services. The passage of federal parity bills for private plans and outpatient Medicare services2 underscores the policy interest in ensuring financial access and the timeliness of considering application of reform principles to these services. This Commentary highlights features of MHSA conditions and services that affect consideration of reform principles.