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A little-noticed federal law affecting mental health and substance abuse benefits kicked in on July 1, and its cost implications could dwarf those of the earliest corporate implementations of the high-profile healthcare reform legislation. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) requires companies with more than 50 employees that cover mental health and substance abuse to equalize financial requirements and treatment limitations for depression, schizophrenia, drug addiction and similar conditions with those set for physical illnesses.

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