The Fund supports networks of state health policy decision makers to help identify, inspire, and inform policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund supports two state leadership programs for legislative and executive branch state government officials committed to improving population health.
The Fund identifies and shares policy ideas and analysis to advance state health leadership, strong primary care, and sustainable health care costs.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. And read the latest blogs from our thought leaders, including Fund President Christopher F. Koller.
The Fund publishes The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to health policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund is is a foundation that works to improve population health and health equity.
Colleen L. Barry
Haiden A. Huskamp
Howard H. Goldman
Feb 27, 2024
Feb 26, 2024
Back to The Milbank Quarterly
Context: This article chronicles the political history of efforts by the U.S. Congress to enact a law requiring “parity” for mental health and addiction benefits and medical/surgical benefits in private health insurance. The goal of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity (MHPAE) Act of 2008 is to eliminate differences in insurance coverage for behavioral health. Mental health and addiction treatment advocates have long viewed parity as a means of increasing fairness in the insurance market, whereas employers and insurers have opposed it because of concerns about its cost. The passage of this law is viewed as a legislative success by both consumer and provider advocates and the employer and insurance groups that fought against it for decades. Methods: Twenty-nine structured interviews were conducted with key informants in the federal parity debate, including members of Congress and their staff; lobbyists for consumer, provider, employer, and insurance groups; and other key contacts. Historical documentation, academic research on the effects of parity regulations, and public comment letters submitted to the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury before the release of federal guidance also were examined. Findings: Three factors were instrumental to the passage of this law: the emergence of new evidence regarding the costs of parity, personal experience with mental illness and addiction, and the political strategies adopted by congressional champions in the Senate and House of Representatives. Conclusions: Challenges to implementing the federal parity policy warrant further consideration. This law raises new questions about the future direction of federal policymaking on behavioral health.
Author(s): Colleen L. Barry; Haiden A. Huskamp; Howard H. Goldman
Keywords: parity; insurance; mental health; addiction
Read on Wiley Online Library
Read on JSTOR
Volume 88, Issue 3 (pages 404–433) DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0009.2010.00605.x Published in 2010
Get the Latest from the Milbank Memorial Fund
The Milbank Quarterly is an editorially independent multidisciplinary journal that offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.