MHPA Extended Through 2004

January 23, 2004 ( - The interim final rules of the Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) have been extended to December 31, 2004 under a technical amendment.

>President Bush signed the Mental Health Reauthorization Act of 2003 in December extending the sunset date of MHPA to December 31, 2004.   The MHPA has been amended twice before to extend the sunset date, which originally provided that benefits for services furnished on or after Sept. 30, 2001 would not be covered under MHPA, according to a news release issued by the US Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).

>Under MPHA, annual or lifetime dollar limits for mental heath benefits can be no lower than the dollar limits for medical/surgical benefits offered by a group health plan.   MPHA 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.

The technical amendment extending the sunset date is set to be published in the January 26 Federal Register.