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Evaluating the U.S. MHPAEA’s effect on alcohol treatment admissions

The U.S. Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) is an important federal policy designed to enhance insurance coverage of and thus increase access to substance use treatment. Researchers used the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s Alcohol Policy Information System to rate the strength of states’ laws that were in place before the start of MHPAEA and, similar to MHPAEA, designed to enhance parity of insurance coverage for treatment. They used SAMHSA’S Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) to examine treatment rates over time. They found that regardless of whether MHPAEA had taken effect, states with stronger pre-existing parity laws had higher treatment rates than states with weaker laws. For the most part, MHPAEA implementation did not appear to affect alcohol treatment rates. As the exception, in states that mandated insurance coverage and partial parity before the start of MHPAEA, alcohol treatment rates increased after the start of MHPAEA implementation.

The paper, “U.S. alcohol treatment admissions after the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act: Do state parity laws and race/ethnicity make a difference?,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. It was published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

Research & Resources