White House promotes PPACA mental health provisions

The White House (AP photo/Colin Winterbottom) The White House (AP photo/Colin Winterbottom)

The White House argued its case this week that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will improve mental health care access.

Cecilia Muñoz, a White House blogger, said the PPACA ban on medical underwriting will keep health plans from using mental illnesses as a reason to deny applications for coverage or charge people with those conditions higher rates.

An earlier law, the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act, already requires both individual and group health plans that offer both medical and mental health benefits to offer comparable medical and mental health benefits, and PPACA will expand access to mental health and substance abuse benefits, Muñoz wrote.

Muñoz did not discuss the PPACA essential health benefits package or how expansion of access to mental health benefits would work.

Muñoz did point out that the new PPACA preventive services package includes depression screening for adults and behavioral assessments for children.

Plans must cover those screenings at no cost to the patient, Muñoz said.

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