Patrick Kennedy Talks Mental Health Parity With AJMC

The former Congressman discussed his goal of finding common ground on what constitutes mental health while at the 167th Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.


Patrick Kennedy Talks Mental Health Parity With AJMC

NEW YORK — Former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, who represented Rhode Island’s 1st District from 1995 to 2011, spoke with The American Journal of Managed Care about implementing the nation’s Mental Health Parity & Addictions Equity Act, which seeks healthcare coverage for mental health disorders on par with overall medical coverage.

Kennedy sponsored in 2008 while in the Congress, and the law became part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Known in mental health care circles as “the parity law,” Kennedy’s legislation took effect January 1, 2014, with additional health plans being covered under it by January 1, 2015.

Kennedy was in New York City Monday to introduce Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who addressed the 167th Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association at the Jacob K. Javits Center. The former congressman, who has been open about his own diagnosis and treatment for bipolar disorder, spoke with AJMC Associate Editorial Director Nicole Beagin about his desire to work with payers to find areas of common ground. To view the interview, click here.

“What I’m interested in is working with the insurance community to really develop a process by which we get a consensus on what it is that constitutes mental health,” Kennedy said. “The way we do that is we bring in both providers—and most importantly the consumers—with the insurance industry and really have an open discussion about what works, and if it works, then obviously we want it paid for.”

Kennedy repeated a theme of the APA conference: paying for mental health care not only saves costs for those with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but for a variety of budgets affected by healthcare spending.

“What we need to do is have a much bigger picture of what it is that we need to construct in terms of the financial package that will allow us to truly build out the services that will treat these biopsychosocial recovery models,” Kennedy said. “It’s going to take all—it’s going take the bio, the medical, it’s going to take the social, it’s going to take the mental health—all of them tied together to really achieve the savings that we know are there if people are managed much more effectively in terms of their illnesses playing havoc in their lives.”

FOR INFORMATION CONTACT: Nicole Beagin (609) 716-7777 x 131