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Third Try to Get Parity Bill Passed

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For the third time, lawmakers plan on introducing federal legislation that would require private insurance companies to cover addiction like other illnesses, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly reported March 26.

Under the Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Act of 2001, introduced by Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), imposing discriminatory restrictions on annual or lifetime addiction treatment coverage limits, copayments, deductibles, and inpatient and outpatient visits would be prohibited.

Treatment and prevention services covered under the bill include detoxification, medication management, counseling, relapse prevention, and methadone maintenance.

Wellstone noted that the bill may have a better chance of passage this year because of the debate over expanding mental-health parity. Because the two fields are closely linked, the addiction parity bill may benefit from the momentum from the mental-health bill.

According to recent statistics, only 2.5 percent of the 16 million Americans enrolled in private health plans receive adequate addiction-treatment services.

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