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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

House Committee Convenes Hearing on Mental Health Parity

September 15, 2016 | Parity | Comments
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Last Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held an informational hearing examining the implementation and enforcement of federal mental health and addiction parity laws and regulations. This hearing is the culmination of conversations that took place during the debate of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act back in June. The Subcommittee engaged providers, behavioral health organizations, and consumers on the implementation of parity requirements, federal and state enforcement efforts, and consumer awareness and access to insurer coverage documents.

The focal point of the hearing was a discussion about Congressman Joe Kennedy’s (D-MA) bill, H.R. 4276, the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act. The bill enforces transparency and reporting requirements to ensure all insurers are providing mental health and addiction care at parity with physical and surgical care. “Until or unless we make good on the promise of insurance parity, access to critical care will remain out of reach for millions of Americans struggling with mental illness,” Congressman Kennedy said at the hearing. “As Congress continues to seek compromise on meaningful mental health reform, any legislation that ignores parity enforcement will fall woefully short.”

Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing added her thanks in a statement, calling out Congressman Kennedy for his leadership.

“We thank the Subcommittee for convening this important hearing and specifically, thank Congressman Kennedy for his dedication and leadership in enforcing mental health and addictions parity nationwide,” she wrote. “His bill provides the knowledge and oversight necessary to guarantee that all consumers have access to the services they need. H.R. 4276 requires insurers to disclose the metrics by which they determine parity coverage as well as the rates and reasons for mental health and addictions claims denials versus that of physical and surgical denials. Over the last several years we have worked together with families, providers, consumers and health plans to implement parity and look forward to continuing this work to achieve our mutual goals of ensuring that all Americans have access to quality behavioral health care.”

Panelists for this briefing included: Pamela Greenberg, President and CEO for the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness; Dr. Michael Trangle, Senior Medical Director of the Behavioral Health Division at HealthPartners Medical Group; and Matt Selig, Executive Director of Health Law Advocates, Inc.