U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., says he wants the Trump administration to enforce federal law that requires health insurance companies to provide equal coverage for mental illness. Murphy was speaking at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington on Tuesday.
Murphy, a Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, co-authored the Mental Health Reform Act, which was signed into law a year ago by President Obama. It requires parity in health insurance coverage for mental illness.
During the hearing, Murphy questioned Elinore McCance-Katz, the Trump administration’s Health and Human Services assistant secretary for mental health and substance abuse. Murphy asked McCance-Katz what the administration is doing to enforce the parity law.
“Have you issued the guidance? Have you issued the report on investigations? Have you conducted any audits?”
McCance-Katz responded that a website has been set up for public complaints.
“We are working on guidance to individuals about their rights, as well as making a toolkit available to insurance regulators within states so they can enforce parity rules.”
Murphy wasn’t satisfied. He cited a report by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who’s a member of Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
“For the record, HHS and Labor have not issued that guidance. They have not issued a report on investigation and they have not conducted any audits of insurance companies. Insurance are clearly in violation of the parity law: that’s what this reports says.”
Murphy urged the Trump administration officials to use the existing law to ensure that people suffering from mental illness and addiction are treated the same as people diagnosed with other illnesses such as cancer.