Quality & Science

ASAM Joins with Coalition to Support Expanded Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Enforcement

by | September 13, 2021

On September 10th, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), along with dozens of partner organizations, sent a letter to Chair Patty Murray of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) urging for the inclusion of enhanced mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) parity enforcement within the Senate’s version of the budget reconciliation proposal. These enhanced enforcement measures would authorize the Department of Labor to assess civil monetary penalties against insurers that violate the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.


The letter noted that the House Education and Labor Committee included parity enforcement language in section 21005 of their own budget reconciliation proposal. Additionally, the Education and Labor Committee dedicated $195 million over five years to the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) for enforcement. The letter also highlighted how these enhanced enforcement capabilities would close gaps in the implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating inequities in mental health and SUD coverage and treatment. Reflective of bipartisan support on this issue, both the Obama Administration’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders and the Trump Administration’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis identified enhanced parity enforcement by the Department of Labor as a critical mechanism to ensure that the country’s mental health and SUD treatment needs are met.