EBSA Adjusts Mental Health Parity Act Dates

April 11, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Federal regulators have proposed a technical amendment to bring the effective dates of interim final rules for the Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) in line with the bill's latest sunset date.

>According to an announcement from the US Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), the proposed amendment extends the interim final rules under the MHPA to December 31, 2003. That mirrors that latest MHPA sunset date as set by the Mental Health Reauthorization Act of 2002 and later signed by President Bush.

>The original MHPA contained a sunset clause requiring that its provisions would not apply to benefits for services furnished on or after September 30, 2001.   An earlier amendment extended the Act until December 31, 2002.  

>MHPA requires that annual or lifetime dollar limits for mental health benefits be no lower than the dollar limits for medical and surgical benefits offered by a group health plan.   The Act pertains to group health plans or health insurance coverage offered by issuers in connection with a group health plan that already offers both mental health and medical/surgical benefits.

>The technical amendment is scheduled to be published in the April 14, 2003 Federal Register.