Mental Health Parity Act Sunset Rule Extended Again

March 20, 2006 ( - The Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has announced a technical amendment extending the interim final rules under the Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA).

The original MHPA contained a sunset rule stating that provisions of the act would not apply to benefits for services furnished on or after Sept. 30, 2001.  According to the announcement, MHPA has been amended four times since then to extend the date for the sunset rule.

The current amendment extends the date of the sunset rule to December 31, 2006.   The amendment is published in the federal register for March 20, 2006.

MPHA 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.  It does not require plans to offer mental health benefits.

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