National Alliance on Mental Illness
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House Passes Extension of 1996 Limited Parity Law

February 7, 2008

On February 7, the House passed legislation extending the 1996 Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) for an additional year by a vote of 384 to 23.  The measure, HR 4848, now moves to the Senate where it is expected to pass quickly.  The MHPA requires equitable coverage for mental illness treatment in group health plans, but only with respect to annual and lifetime dollar limits.  Since 2001, Congress has annually renewed the law for 1 year at a time.  At the end of 2007, efforts to extend the law for another year fell short. 

Major national health plans have made clear that they continue to comply with the MHPA despite this temporary lapse.  Most plan contracts operating on a calendar year basis were put in place long before the end of 2007 and assumed compliance with the law.  

The 1996 Mental Health Parity Act and Current Federal Proposals for Comprehensive Insurance Parity

Learn more about ongoing efforts to pass a comprehensive federal parity bill.