For the third time, the parity rules under the Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA)
have been extended. The rules, which require parity between benefits for mental
and physical health, were originally scheduled to sunset on or after September
By signing the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004, President George W.
Bush extended the MHPA to December 31, 2005. The MHPA requires that annual or
lifetime dollar limits for mental health benefits be no lower than the dollar
limits for medical/ surgical benefits offered under a group health plan. It
does not require plans to cover mental health issues, but if they do, there
must be parity.
The extension announcement was published in the December
17, 2004 issue of the Federal Register.