House and Senate Pass Mental Health Parity Extension
The House and Senate have each passed bills that would extend the applicability of the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 ("MHPA") an additional year. The Senate version, S. 1929, passed by unanimous consent. MHPA, the provisions of which appear in Section 702 of ERISA, was scheduled to expire as of December 31, 2003. MHPA requires group health plans to provide annual and lifetime limits on mental health benefits that are identical to those provided by the plan for major medical benefits. Small employers-generally those with 50 or fewer employees-are exempt from MHPA's requirements.
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