Parity: Access to Meaningful Care to help actualize Meaningful Lives

Before the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008 and Timothy's Law in 2007, there was a little boy name Timothy O'Clair who suffered tremendously with a serious mental illness. Timothy was born May 5th, 1988 in New York. He "loved fishing, baseball, camping, bowling, and building things with his hands." While Timothy's early childhood was unremarkable in terms of developmental milestones, by age 7 he begun to show difficulties with frustration tolerance and exhibited temper tantrums. Through the ensuing years, Timothy's parents tried every possible venue to secure for Timothy, the level of care he needed. Despite their many attempts, and their personal sacrifices for Timothy, from depleting their financial resources to giving up partial legal rights to their son, this ended, as no parent should have to experience. After another round of denial for needed care, Timothy, at age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet on March 15, 2001. His mother found him, and his eldest brother helped to get Timothy's body down.

As the health care industry drives forward with integrated care and parity access for mental health and substance abuse, let's not forget implementation of parity means doing our utmost to prevent another Timothy to suffer and to die alone, and for a family to live a life of loss and grief. It also means taking steps to define systems that measure and recognize the means by which Parity affects care. See the CMS webinar on Parity. Read about CMS goals with MPHAEA. Understand SAMHSHA's role in MPHAEA. More importantly, is an agent of change. Consider how your organization is effecting change by improving access to care through parity policy implementation, staff training and system changes. Develop strategies for change to leverage MPHAEA access to care.

To support these efforts, SAE is pleased to announce that we have gained experience as an external Parity Compliance Administrator. Our knowledge acquisition of Parity now enables SAE to assist behavioral health care service providers to understand and internalize the policies and procedures they need to be in compliance with Parity and to ensure that consumers of health care services have appropriate and timely access to care.