The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) was passed in 2008 but has yet to be readily implemented and enforced. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) have not provided consistent guidelines on how to enforce this legislation. Download this useful guide to better understand the legislation, and how you can more successfully appeal your health plan to provide needed coverage.

The lack of enforcement has left too many families with inadequate health coverage for their child’s substance abuse treatment. We think this is unacceptable and are calling for the HHS and DOL agencies to sufficiently implement this law.

Please write your Congressman and urge them to sign on to the below letter demanding action to enforce MHPAEA. Please email Courtney Hunter when you have written or called your congressman regarding MHPAEA. Thanks for your support!

From: The Honorable Paul Tonko
Sent By:
Date: 10/8/2015

Dear Colleague,

We all know the statistics that are staggering. Over 41,000 Americans died from suicide in 2013 and suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds. 120 Americans a day are dying from drug overdoses, and overdose now exceeds vehicular accidents as a leading cause of death. Sadly, only 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with a substance use disorder receive any help for their illness and only 20 percent of children with a mental illness diagnosis receive care. Our system is broken.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) was passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate and signed into law in 2008 by President George W. Bush. Seven years have elapsed and final regulations are still not fully implemented. Unfortunately, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Labor have provided only limited guidance on how states must comply with MHPAEA and enforcement has been inconsistent.

Not fully using MHPAEA to combat the twin public health crises of untreated mental illness and substance use disorders has led to a lack of access to care and the nearly 50,000 Americans annually who lose their lives because of untreated mental illness and addiction. These are needless tragedies that are creating devastating effects on individuals, families and communities.

In April 2015, a National Alliance on Mental Illness report showed that consumers are unable to access provider lists before buying a health plan and are unable to access information they need to make informed decisions about which plan best serves their needs.

As a result, we are circulating a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez asking them to take immediate action to implement and enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

Specifically, our letter urges HHS and DOL to report back to Congress on the following:

1. How many audits has your Department conducted to determine compliance with MHPAEA? What were the results of those audits? Will de-identified results of the audits be made available on your website? If audits have not been conducted, will your agencies be conducting them in the future?

2. Does your Department plan to issue additional parity guidance to health plans and issuers on what documents and analyses they must conduct and disclose in order to demonstrate compliance with MHPAEA? If so, by what date?

3. When will Medicaid parity final regulations be released? When will enforcement for parity under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program begin?

For more information or to sign on, contact Scott Dziengelski with Rep. Murphy at or Jeff Morgan with Rep. Tonko at Please have your staff contact our staff with any questions.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.


Tim Murphy
Member of Congress

Paul Tonko
Member of Congress