Director’s Blog When the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was signed into law in 2008, after decades of debate, advocates for mental health celebrated what was arguably their most important legislative achievement in 50 years. The new law, with the cumbersome acronym of MHPAEA, had a simple, ambitious goal: treatment for mental illness and substance abuse disorders would be on a par with treatment for all other medical disorders. If insurance companies covered treatments for depression and diabetes, they could not have different requirements or different deductibles or different reimbursement schedules for the two conditions.

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Importance Although substance use disorders (SUDs) are prevalent and associated with adverse consequences, treatment rates remain low. Unlike physical and mental health problems, treatment for SUDs is predominantly provided in a separate specialty sector and more heavily financed by public sources. Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has the potential to increase access to treatment for SUDs but only if an infrastructure exists to serve new enrollees

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Importance There have been recent calls for increased access to mental health services, but access may be limited owing to psychiatrist refusal to accept insurance. Objective To describe recent trends in acceptance of insurance by psychiatrists compared with physicians in other specialties. Design, Setting, and Participants We used data from a national survey of office-based physicians in the United States to calculate rates of acceptance of private noncapitated insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid by psychiatrists vs physicians in other specialties and to compare characteristics of psychiatrists who accepted insurance and those who did not

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