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Oregon mental health parity law successful.

Oregon's comprehensive mental health parity law has improved coverage without substantial cost increases, according to a study published online Sept. 2 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The law bans commercial health plans from putting limits on mental health and substance abuse services that are not also imposed on medical-surgical services. The study's lead author said the Oregon law, considered the most comprehensive state parity law, is particularly relevant in gauging potential impacts of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, a federal law that took effect in July 2010. The study compared expenditures for commercially insured individuals in four Oregon health plans from 2005-2008 and a matched group of insured people who were exempt from parity.

"Oregon's law is a very close analog to the new federal parity law, specifically in the way that it restricted plans from aggressively managing the behavioral health benefit," said study author K. John McConnell, PhD, a health economist at Oregon Health and Science University.

While the concern was that a parity law would increase spending, McConnell said the expected spending growth didn't materialize.
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Title Annotation:STATES IN BRIEF
Author:Currie, Donya
Publication:The Nation's Health
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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