September 07, 2017

Warren, Kennedy Raise Concerns About Trump Administration Enforcement of Mental Health Parity Laws

Lawmakers Request Answers, Cite Limited Progress of Online Consumer Parity Portal

Text of the letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Joe Kennedy III requested an update on efforts to improve compliance with mental health parity laws through an online consumer parity portal. With insurance plans frequently denying claims for behavioral health services, the lawmakers expressed concern that the Trump Administration has neglected the Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help Consumer Portal, a potentially promising tool for enforcing parity laws.

In the letter, Warren and Kennedy cited data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that shows "almost 18 percent of adults in the U.S. have some type of mental illness, yet less than half of these individuals receive mental health services," and a survey from the National Alliance on Mental Illness that found "nearly twice as many respondents had been denied coverage for mental health services as for general medical care."

"Insurance coverage for behavioral health services is critical to the health of our constituents and to our ability to address the opioid crisis devastating communities across the country," wrote the lawmakers.

Referencing an October 2016 report from the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force, Warren and Kennedy cited the parity portal as a "one-stop consumer web portal" where consumers could "get to the correct resource to help them solve their coverage issue, file a complaint, or submit an appeal."

The lawmakers asked a number of questions, including what actions HHS has taken to help consumers find and use the portal, whether HHS has established goals for and is tracking the number of visitors the portal has received, if HHS is tracking how many individuals have sought assistance dealing with specific insurance types, and what plans HHS has for improvements to the site.

The lawmakers introduced legislation last Congress to establish a system for consumer complaints related to behavioral health parity.

To read their full letter and the questions raised, please click here.