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The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recently released the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Action Plan, required by Section 13002 of the 21st Century Cures Act. The Action Plan includes recent and planned actions from HHS, the Department of Labor, and the Department of the Treasury related to ongoing implementation of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) based on written comments from stakeholders and input from a public listening session held in July 2017.

MHPAEA applies to employment–based large group health plans and health insurance issuers choosing to provide mental health and addiction disorder coverage, and requires that limitations on such benefits not be more restrictive than limitations on medical and surgical benefits.

Almost one in five Americans experienced a diagnosable mental illness in 2016, and nearly one-quarter of them had a serious mental illness that interferes with performing daily activities. The prevalence of substance use disorders (SUDs) has increased in the previous two decades, with estimates suggesting that over 20 million adults suffered from an alcohol or SUD in 2016. In particular, the rate of opioid use disorder has been on the rise, with more than 2 million Americans now suffering from opioid use disorder, driving historically high rates of drug overdose deaths. SUD and mental illness often intersect: Almost one-half of those adults, more than 8 million Americans, had both an SUD and a diagnosable mental illness.

The announcement will help ensure that such individuals can access mental health and SUD treatment. In particular, it aligns with HHS’s five-pillar strategy for addressing the opioid crisis, which includes helping people access evidence-based treatment. The President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis also recommended full enforcement of MHPAEA.

It is the mission of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans. HHS fulfills that mission by providing for effective health and human services, and by fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services.

This was reported by SAMHSA on April 23, 2018.

Contact Information: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue Southwest, Washington DC 20201; (877) 696-6775; Website:

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