Celebrating 10 Years of Mental Health Parity

Parity Progress

Ten years ago today, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) was passed into law. This ground-breaking legislation required health plans to treat mental health and substance use conditions like physical medical conditions without treatment or financial limitations. For more than 40 years, Magellan has wholeheartedly supported and actively advocated for parity. Every day, we work together with our customers — health plans, employers, state Medicaid and military and government clients — to innovate new solutions on behalf of those we serve, which continues to advance the law and helps to reduce the stigma around mental health and substance use issues. At Magellan, mental health is fundamentally as important as physical wellness, but it’s just a start.

Beyond equal to individualized and integrated

While our country has made positive strides in parity, we know achieving a healthy, vibrant life is tied to many factors beyond parity – namely social determinants, such as housing, poverty, education and access to transportation and healthy food. One way we are addressing and accounting for these social determinants is by focusing on providing individualized, integrated care.

Complete Care-Person-centered. Community-focused. Evidence-based.

A great example is Magellan Complete Care, which operates person-centered health plans that provide complete care coordination for recipients in Medicare and Medicaid. In the state of Florida, we developed the first-in-the-nation Medicaid specialty health plan to integrate physical and behavioral healthcare and address the social determinants of health for individuals living with serious mental illness and substance use disorders. In Arizona, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia, our Medicaid health plans integrate the full continuum of healthcare services – including mental health and substance use disorder services and treatments individualized to help each member live their healthiest, most vibrant life.

Integrated Health Neighborhoods

Magellan Complete Care plan participants include many individuals who contend with complex conditions that impact their physical health and mental well-being every single day. These individuals need to stay connected to their families, friends, neighbors and others in their communities to maintain independence and achieve optimal health and well-being. Doing so makes the difference between surviving and thriving. To these ends, we have pioneered a care coordination model called the Integrated Health Neighborhood (SM).

This model challenges the definition of what you might think a traditional health plan does for its members. Instead of just focusing on physical and behavioral health treatment, Integrated Health Neighborhoods work within existing community support agencies and local public health systems to strengthen and extend their reach. Our local teams help each member navigate these systems and supports based on their needs as well as their preferences for connecting in their own communities. This helps minimize member disruption through the use of familiar local provider networks and support from trusted community organizations.

Our Integrated Health Network teams are comprised of Magellan associates who live in the same communities as the members they serve. Our assigned teams personally know people at agencies, organizations and local resources across their neighborhood, whom they can call on, person to person, to find the right resources for each member. They work collaboratively to help each individual member find his/her path to independence and well-being.

Recovery Support Navigators

A unique part of the team are the Recovery Support Navigators. These are certified peer support specialists who have lived experiences with some of the same challenges our members face – they have experienced substance use disorders or psychiatric disabilities and may have personally been homeless, had their utilities turned off or experienced food insecurity. They can relate to the members they support, empathize, and then draw on real-world solutions to help them.

For the past 20 years, Magellan has been a leader in increasing access to peer support through partnerships with the recovery community and providers.  We have assisted state customers in developing robust certified peer specialist capabilities, driven in large part by our depth and breadth of experience.   We create shared learning opportunities for the peer workforce and others to improve and enhance the knowledge, skills, and competencies of the peer workforce across the continuum.  Our Recovery Support Navigators represent our best practice approach to tapping the power and potential of peer support.

We know people are more than just a diagnosis – or multiple diagnoses. Truly living healthy, vibrant lives means seeing more than parity for the pieces. It’s seeing and caring for the whole person and bringing together the right resources across the community to help. Integration and individualization are the next steps, and I am proud to say Magellan is out front and on the ground in neighborhoods around the country, taking these steps with our partners and members – together!

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