Connecticut US Senators Reintroduce Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act – InsuranceNewsNet


WASHINGTON DC — United States Senators from Connecticut Chris Murphymember of the Senate Healtheducation, work and pensions, and Richard Blumenthal joined 12 of their Senate colleagues by reintroducing the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act, legislation that would strengthen oversight and enforcement of federal parity laws.

“Insurance companies often put up bureaucratic hurdles that make it nearly impossible for patients to access mental health care. It’s against the law, and that’s why I’ve long lobbied for tougher enforcement of our federal parity laws. This legislation would take important steps to ensure that insurers who use red tape to deny coverage are held accountable and that patients are well informed of their right to mental health care. I continue to push for further improvements to make parity a reality,” Murphy said.

“While mental health parity has been the law for many years, Connecticut families are continually denied benefits for essential health diagnostic and treatment services. This vital legislation will help remove one of the greatest barriers to accessing mental and behavioral health care – insurer refusal to cover the cost of such care – through much-needed transparency and accountability,” Blumenthal said.

This Congress, the legislation was updated to reflect improvements passed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA), which was led by Murphy. The CAA granted the departments of Health and social services (HHS), labor (DOL) and Treasury increased oversight authority to help provide new insights into insurance company compliance with federal parity laws.

In February this year, departments released their first report following the implementation of these new provisions and documented significant compliance gaps, confirming that much more needs to be done to strengthen enforcement. of the law and protect consumers.

The updated legislation, which builds on the provisions adopted in the CAA, would:

* Increase transparency by requiring insurance schemes and third-party administrators to submit annual reports containing information on any non-quantitative processing limitations and disclose additional data on denial rates, reimbursement rates and adequacy of network ;

*Encourage compliance by ensuring that HHS, DOL and Treasury review no less than 100 plans per year, including 40 random audits;

* Establish a toll-free phone number and online consumer parity portal to provide patients and providers with a centralized website hosting information about patient rights, results of monitoring efforts, and resources to ensure that consumers of health care receive the protections guaranteed to them by law; and

* Support consumers by encouraging collaboration among federal agencies and with states, including providing grants to establish, expand, or provide support to health insurance consumer assistance offices and insurance ombudsman programs sickness.

Last year, Murphy introduced the Parity Implementation Assistance Act with the U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-La.), This would encourage greater compliance with federal mental health parity laws. The bipartisan legislation builds on the Murphy-Cassidy Mental Health Parity Compliance Act of 2019, which became law in 2020 and provided federal and state health insurance regulators with additional tools to monitor and ensure compliance with mental health parity laws.

It has received support from more than 50 advocacy organizations and experts.

The Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act builds on the 2020 amendments to the Parity Act and requires greater accountability from health plans and insurers,” said American Psychiatric Association CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, MD, MPA. “The report from January to Congress federal agencies responsible for parity enforcement have revealed that much remains to be done to achieve full compliance with the law. We applaud Senator Warren and Bearer Representatives and Cárdenas for their continued focus on implementing mental health parity.

Ellen WeberSenior Vice President for Health Initiatives, Center for Legal Action, added that the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act addresses two critical strategies for realizing the promise of the Parity Act: helping consumers to understand and enforce their right to equitable coverage for substance use disorders and mental health and to improve federal oversight of health plan parity compliance.

“Awarding new federal funds to states to establish independent consumer assistance offices will ensure individuals and families who encounter barriers to insurance have the practical support they need to overcome them,” Weber said. “Coupled with stronger federal enforcement of carrier compliance requirements and greater transparency, this bill will help address the growing mental health needs and escalating overdose crisis in communities across the country. our country.


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