Boston Globe: Getting people the behavioral health care they need
Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled in favor of more than 50,000 patients who brought a class action lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, for unfairly denying their claims for mental health and substance use disorder treatment. In his ruling, the judge blasted UnitedHealth for cutting costs at patients’ expense and preventing them from getting recommended treatment unless their behavioral health issue was an emergency.
This ruling was an important victory for patients and behavioral health advocates, but patients shouldn’t be forced to join a years-long class action suit against their insurance company just to get the treatment they need. We must guarantee health coverage for every American, and we also should fight to ensure that no person faces illegal discrimination when seeking behavioral health care.
We are introducing the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act in the House and Senate to crack down on discriminatory practices that prevent patients from accessing care and contribute to the stigmatization of behavioral health needs.
Our bill would strengthen enforcement of existing mental health parity laws by increasing mandatory federal audits of health plans, requiring insurance companies to disclose how they make decisions on behavioral health care coverage, and establishing a Consumer Parity Portal. The portal would be a one-stop shop where consumers could learn about their rights and submit complaints about their insurers.
Health care is a basic human right, and discrimination has no place in our society, much less our health care system. It’s long past time to get back to work building an equitable, affordable, and universal health care system that guarantees health care to everyone in Massachusetts and across this country.
Read the full op-ed on the Boston Globe website here.
By: Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Joe Kennedy III
Source: Boston Globe