WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), both members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on Wednesday introduced the Mental Health Parity Compliance Act of 2019. The legislation would improve transparency and accountability to help ensure consumers have access to mental health and substance use services included in their plans. It would strengthen compliance with mental health parity laws by requiring issuers or plans to submit comparative analyses upon request from federal oversight agencies. U.S. Representative Katie Porter (CA-45) plans to introduce the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Murphy and Cassidy co-authored the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act in 2016, which was signed into law by President Obama.
“People in Connecticut with mental health and substance abuse conditions deserve the same access to care as everyone else. We’ve passed legislation in the past to deal with this, but far too often we’ve seen insurers put up all sorts of bureaucratic hurdles for people accessing mental health care or battling addiction. The Mental Health Parity Compliance Act aims to correct that. Our legislation will require insurance providers to give the same access to care for someone with a mental health diagnosis as they do for someone with a broken leg, and it will crack down on bad actors to make sure they do,” said Murphy.
“As a doctor, I know mental health and physical health are linked. Ensuring equal access to both, health outcomes improve. Senator Murphy and I worked to pass the Mental Health Reform Act to ensure Americans with mental illness could get the treatment they need. This legislation ensures accountability so patients have the same resources to take care of their mental health as their physical health,” said Cassidy.
“For too long insurers have neglected their responsibility to adequately provide coverage for patients with mental illness or substance use disorders,” said APA President Bruce Schwartz, M.D. “This bill will help to ensure those patients be treated like patients with any other illness and end this harmful discrimination.”
“The 2008 Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was designed to make insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatment no more restrictive than insurance coverage for any other medical condition,” said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD. “However, more than a decade after the law was enacted, we are concerned that some health plans and insurers are not complying with crucial but complex requirements around equal access to care. Given such issues as the opioid crisis and rise in suicides, it is more important than ever that people have access to the services they need.”
The Mental Health Parity Compliance Act of 2019 would:
The legislation is supported by more than 50 organizations, including many listed here.