Mental Health Substance Use Disorder (MH/SUD) Parity Accreditation Program

URAC-accredited organizations are able to demonstrate to both internal and external stakeholders that they have taken critical steps toward complying with MH/SUD parity requirements. URAC’s MH/SUD parity accreditation standards track to the federal MHPAEA Final Rules and have direct relevance to many state mental health parity laws, which may explicitly reference MHPAEA or contain similar requirements.

This accreditation program helps achieve important milestones for a variety of stakeholder groups:

  • Promoting national consistency. The Standards help identify a national and consistent approach to demonstrate capacity to comply with the requirements of federal MHPAEA. Currently, there is significant variation in how health plans are demonstrating parity compliance and how state and federal regulators are enforcing it. 
  • Supplying a proactive roadmap for health plans. Until now, must of the discussion about MHSUD parity compliance has been retroactive actions against health plans and other entities. URAC’s MH/SUD Parity Accreditation Program provides a roadmap to help health plans and others create true parity between MH/SUD and medical/surgical benefits and maintain it proactively. 
  • Recognizing parity excellence. Employers and health insurance purchasers may require health plans and other health insurers to become URAC accredited to show their commitment to MH/SUD parity, as part of a request for proposal (RFP). 
  • Regulatory support. Regulators may look to URAC’s MH/SUD Parity Accreditation Standards as a framework to structure their compliance audits, policy review processes, and market conduct examinations.
  • Risk mitigation. An organization that has successfully been through the MHSUD parity process will have created a robust operational framework to limit regulatory fines and reduce the likelihood of parity-related litigation. 
  • Establishing dynamic thresholds. URAC will work with a variety of stakeholders to address areas of ambiguity and continue to move the bar higher as new regulatory guidance and other aspects of parity compliance are settled.

The standards development process was, by necessity, intensive, due to the complexity of the federal guidance on MHPAEA and the underlying complexity of the managed care system. The resulting MH/SUD Parity Accreditation Program represents a significant advance in promoting the identification, implementation, and auditing of parity compliance activities.

Our standards were developed with input from health plans, community advocates, and other health care experts.

Download our Mental Health/Substance Use Disorder Parity Program Standards-at-a-Glance.

Who may apply for Parity Accreditation?

Health plans, third-party administrators and other managed care organizations with comprehensive responsibility for medical/surgical, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment benefits

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