2017 Erikson Institute Fall Conference
Austen Riggs Center
Mental Health Parity, Ethics, and the Law:
What clinicians, patients, and advocates should know
This activity is approved for up to 6.0 hours of AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™, risk management study.
Conference Director: Eric M. Plakun, MD
Although it has been ten years since the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA or parity law) was signed into law, implementation of parity has been slow. Progress has been made in ending so-called “quantitative” barriers to treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, such as day or lifetime dollar limits to mental health treatment that are more restrictive than those applied to medical or surgical care. However, so-called “non-quantitative” barriers to access to care remain common—including higher utilization review hurdles to access psychotherapy or residential treatment. Government enforcement of the parity law lagged under the Obama administration in part to ensure the support of insurance companies to make Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges work. It is not yet clear whether parity implementation is a priority under the Trump administration, whose focus has been on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. As a result, much of the work toward parity law enforcement and implementation has occurred at the grassroots level through class-action lawsuits and the work of professional organizations.
Our conference this year brings together perspectives from legislators knowledgeable about the politics of healthcare, attorneys involved in class-action lawsuit litigation related to the parity law, and clinicians concerned about access to healthcare and interested in new developments concerning how the parity law impacts the ethical obligations of managed care psychiatrists. The conference goal is to educate clinicians, patients, and care advocates about the current state of the national health insurance landscape, with a focus on parity law implementation. We will also offer a toolkit to maximize the likelihood of gaining insurance support for medically necessary psychotherapy and other psychosocial treatments. Participants are invited to bring their own experience and questions to the conference and to join others in thinking about individual- and systems-level issues related to parity implementation.
Meiram Bendat, JD, PhD
Founder and president of Psych Appeal, licensed attorney, and psychotherapist
Laura B. Dunn, MD
Professor of psychiatry, director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Program, and director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic at Stanford University
Ted Kennedy Jr., JD
State Senator in the Connecticut General Assembly and partner at the law firm of Epstein Becker Green
Eric M. Plakun, MD
Associate medical director and director of biopsychosocial advocacy at the Austen Riggs Center, and leader of the APA Psychotherapy Caucus
8:30 a.m. Breakfast and Registration
9:00 a.m. Morning Session
12:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. Afternoon Session
5:30 p.m. Conference Adjourns
Fees & Registration:
Registration includes breakfast and lunch
$150 early registration by September 1, 2017
$175 after September 1, 2017
Please register online or call Erikson Institute Education Coordinator Samantha Blache at  931.5230.
Conference Director Eric M. Plakun, MD, Gives an Overview of the 2017 Fall Conference
1. To list aspects of current national health insurance law and litigation that are likely to impact meaningful access to mental health treatment under the parity law
2. To explain the potential impact of recent revisions of the ethical codes of the American Psychiatric Association and American Medical Association on managed care reviewers using review standards that do not comply with the parity law.
3. To list elements of a toolkit for clinicians, patients and families to maximize the likelihood of gaining insurance support for medically necessary mental health treatment, including psychotherapy
The Austen Riggs Center designates this live activity for a maximum of 6.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) ™, risk management study.
Attention NY, NJ and ME Social Workers: the Austen Riggs Center is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. As of July 2015, ACE is accepted in 47 jurisdictions. This does not include the states of New York, New Jersey, and Maine.