Snapshot of Parity Implementation in New York

The Parity Implementation Coalition (PIC) publicizes bimonthly state profiles that detail promising practices in parity implementation throughout the United States. For the month of June, PIC selected the state of New York, identifying four best practices:

 

  • Work with the state’s Attorney General (AG) to enforce parity laws.
  • Disseminate consumer hotlines numbers at any relevant agency of state government and execute a campaign to get consumers to call and complain about denial of care they think may be a MHPAEA violation.
  • Get state officials to publish denial rates of medical/surgical and mental health/substance use disorder claims.
  • Establish technical assistance hotline for providers.

In this issue, Lisa Landau from the Health Care Bureau at New York’s Office of the Attorney General and Karla Lopez of the Legal Action Center were interviewed. According to Landau, the AG’s office decided to get involved in the enforcement of the federal parity and state law because of the unequal application of both laws, in particularly to situations that involve eating disorders or substance use disorders. In addition, the treatment of behavioral health conditions is a top priority on the national and state public health agenda. Ensuring coverage for behavioral health conditions is consistent with conversations and efforts at public health agencies. The New York AG’s office is able to engage in parity enforcement with the help of six attorneys and a team of ten employees, who comprise the Health Care Bureau.  Lopex of the Legal Action Center believes the AG’s office and their hotline are vital in the implementation of parity regulations.

Parity enforcement in the state was sparked by the opiate epidemic affecting the lives of New Yorkers. Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, supported the I-STOP campaign that would monitor prescription drug usage. One of the challenges the NY’s Attorney General is currently facing is the lack of federal government oversight of parity enforcement and to have providers and consumers report document parity issues.  Lopez stated the biggest challenge of parity enforcement is the lack of awareness and that the law is complex.

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