by Brian K. LaFratta

About the Article

Currently, an estimated sixty-three percent of elderly Americans have an unmet need for mental health services. In this note, Brian LaFratta explores the negative impact that the Mental Health Parity Act has upon this segment of the American population as they search for adequate mental health benefits. Mr. LaFratta argues that since its implementation in 1996, the Act has barred access to mental health insurance benefits for millions of elderly Americans because of its limited scope and multiple exceptions. Among the Act’s most notable exceptions is its inapplicability to the Medicare program in which ninety percent of the elderly population is enrolled. Furthermore, courts have held that the passage of the Act forecloses remedy for disparate insurance coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mr. LaFratta maintains that the Act, therefore, does not create the real parity between benefits for mental and physical illness as it was established to do and as is needed by the elderly. Therefore, he offers new legislative solutions in the form of amendments to Medicare and the ADA aimed at providing genuine parity among insurance benefits to the elderly.

About the Author

Brian K. LaFratta is a member of the University of Illinois College of Law class of 2001 and of The Elder Law Journal, serving as Managing Editor during the 2000–01 academic year.

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The Elder Law Journal

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