Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Parity Finally Comes to Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has announced that in accordance with the requirements of the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act that they are removing artifical dollar and visit limits for mental health and substance abuse treatment services provided through the BadgerCare Plus Benchmark Plan. This change will ensure that the 14,000+ enrollees will have access to equitable treatment for these disorders.

Mental Health America of Wisconsin (MHA) would like to recognize the DHS for showing tremendous leadership in adopting these new requirements. MHA’s Director of Public Policy, Shel Gross, had this to say: “Following on the heels of the recent passage of the Wisconsin Parity Act, this news keeps Wisconsin in the forefront of efforts to improve access to mental health and addiction treatment services. DHS clearly recognizes that parity is a bottom line issue: you can’t have good health care without good mental health and addiction treatment.”

The Badger Care Plus population can particulary benefit from this change. Postpartum depression alone affects 12-15% of women, but up to 28% of women living in poverty. Although treatment is effective and failure to treat can have significant negative effects on children, about half of women with postpartum depression are untreated. Access to services for youth is also critical since half of all cases of mental disorders begin by age 14 and can significantly impact a child’s school and social functioning. Youth with emotional disorders are less likely to complete high school than any other group of chilren with disabilities.
About time, too.

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