Obtaining mental health care need not present so much of a problem for Oregon employee benefit plan participants.
There are over 150 million workers that are covered by group health insurance plans throughout the United States.
The president signed a law called the Mental Health Parity Act, or MHPA, which was recently extended through December 31, 2007.
This means that the original bill of 1996 has been extended. It originally included a “sunset clause.” This meant that it was due to expire on September 31, 2001. But after 5 amendments, the expiration date has been extended.
In 1974, the Employee Benefits Security Administration was created. One of its purposes was to enforce the Employed Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. This has become known as ERISA. This agency was previously known as the Pension and Welfare Benefits Program. The name was changed again in January 1986. This time it became known as the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, also known as PWBA.
This agency was upgraded in 2003. It was upgraded to sub-cabinet level. The Assistant Secretary of Labor has oversight of the present agency.
The new name is meant to show that the agency handles both pensions and violations of law regarding health care.
The Mental Health Parity Act means that it is illegal for public health care plans to set a limit on funds available for the treatment of mental illness at a much lower rate than funds available for the treatment of other medical conditions.
In the past, employees have found that while in some cases as much as $100,000 per year or more is available for the treatment of medical illnesses, when it came to finding funds for the treatment of mental illness it was much less. In some cases, it would amount to only $5,000 to $10,000 dollars, or sometimes even less.
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