The time for mental health parity is now
The concept behind parity is pretty simple: People should have the same access to mental health treatment that they have for their physical health. A law was passed in 2008 (the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, commonly known as the Federal Parity Law) that requires insurers to cover illnesses of the brain (such as schizophrenia, depression, and addiction) no more restrictively than they cover illnesses of the body (such as heart conditions or diabetes).
Unfortunately, that concept has not become reality in many states, including Georgia. The federal law left it up to each state to determine how to enforce the law. Over ten years later, there is no clear process in place for Georgians who believe they have been denied parity to seek recourse.
A working group of Georgia nonprofits and allies has been working to craft a strategy to make parity a reality in Georgia. There have been some legislative attempts over the years to improve parity in Georgia (you can read about them here), but each has failed.
There are a lot of special interest groups who have a financial stake in making sure parity in Georgia is not realized. Until Georgia’s citizens are better able to speak to their legislators about how important access to mental health support is, we may never achieve parity here.
That is why the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network is encouraging its members, allies, and supporters to learn more about parity, and to begin talking about parity with their legislative leaders, behavioral healthcare providers, neighbors, and family members.
Parity is the law in Georgia. It is time for it to become a reality.
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