Patrick Kennedy Describes the Importance of the Mental Health Parity & Addictions Equity Act

Patrick J. Kennedy, former US Representative for Rhode Island's 1st Congressional District, says that he authored the Mental Health Parity & Addictions Equity Act in 2008, which was then incorporated into the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The parity law went into effect in January 2014, and by 2015, more health plans are expected to be covered under it.

Patrick J. Kennedy, former US Representative for Rhode Island's 1st Congressional District, says that he authored the Mental Health Parity & Addictions Equity Act in 2008, which was then incorporated into the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The parity law went into effect in January 2014, and by 2015, more health plans are expected to be covered under it.

“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,” says Mr Kennedy. “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.”

He adds that investing in mental health 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,” says Mr Kennedy. “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.”