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February 2017

Realizing the Promise of Parity Legislation for Mental Health

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(2):117-118. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.3002

The path to parity for private health insurance coverage began when President John F. Kennedy directed the Civil Service Commission to offer equal insurance coverage for mental health and general medical care in 1963. The next effort to enact parity was in 1992 via legislation introduced by Senators Domenici and Danforth. Parity legislation was reintroduced in each of the following 8 Congresses. The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) was enacted in October of 2008. At the time, Senator Domenici commented: “It’s amazing, not only because we got it done, but because for a nation, it has taken us so long.”1

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