Parity is Equality

The RI Parity Initiative is a public awareness and education effort to help empower people to understand and assert their right to health insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatment and services.

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of passage of the Federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). In 2008, the Mental Health Association Rhode Island joined with others nationally to win enactment of this groundbreaking legislation that mandates equal coverage for mental health and addiction treatment and services.

Yet, ten years later, parity remains aspirational. Too many Americans, including Rhode Islanders, continue to be denied care when they need it the most.  In fact, the results of a market conduct exam of Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI released in September 2018 by Rhode Island’s Office of Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC), found the plan to be ‘non-compliant’ in certain respects with both Federal and State parity requirements.  The report stated that in many cases utilization review procedures were “unreasonable and inequitable” and “did not properly consider patients’ welfare and safety.” The RI Parity Initiative will work to improve and expand parity for all patients. 

The RIParity Initiative is supported with funds from the Rhode Island Foundation, the United Way of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), and through individual donations.

The RI Parity Initiative is a project of the Mental Health Association of RI, an affiliate of Mental Health America.

Mental Health America

“Parity is a civil rights issue. For too long, people seeking mental health, including addiction treatment, have experienced discrimination. An estimated one in four Rhode Islanders experience a mental health crisis every year and yet, patients continue to be shamed and embarrassed and forced to beg for coverage of services that their mental health professionals identify as necessary. A lack of parity is still the greatest barrier to care and it’s time, 10 years along, that this discrimination ends.” 
– Ruth Feder, Former Executive Director, MHARI
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RI Parity