EBSA Releases Amendment to Extend Mental Health Parity Law

February 26, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Federal regulators have released the necessary technical amendment to extend the interim final rules under the Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) to December 31, 2007.

That sunset date extension was contained in the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 signed by President Bush on December 20, 2006, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

When originally signed into law in 1996, the MHPA stated that the act would not apply to benefits for services furnished on or after September 30, 2001.  Since then MHPA has been amended five times to extend the sunset date (See  Mental Health Parity Act Sunset Rule Extended Again ).

MHPA requires that annual or lifetime dollar limits for mental heath benefits be no lower than the dollar limits for medical/surgical benefits offered by a group health plan. The act applies to group health plans or health insurance coverage offered by issuers in connection with a group health plan that offers both mental health and medical/surgical benefits.  However, it does not require plans to offer mental health benefits.

For more information about mental health benefits, contact EBSA, 1- (866)444-3272 or go to  http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/fsmhparity.html .