Mental Health Coverage Flaw Fines Targeted


October 14, 2021 6:14 am

Democrats want to beef up enforcement of rules meant to make it easier to access mental health services using insurance. Business groups say the move won’t work and is a ploy to pay for Democrats’ wide-reaching social spending agenda.

Tucked into a once-$3.5 trillion domestic spending package is a provision empowering the government to fine health plans and employers that violate federal laws requiring access to mental health care that’s on par with other medical care. Health plans now get cited for violating the law and agree to come into compliance and reimburse beneficiaries.

Supporters of the new fines say they’ll give the Labor Department an effective tool to expand mental health coverage. Parity between mental health and other health services has been lacking for decades, often leaving people without adequate coverage for the help they need.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say improving mental health parity in insurance plans is a key to tackling the ongoing opioid overdose crisis in the U.S. Americans are struggling to find mental health and substance use treatment services they can afford since so many services are out of network.

“A crucial part of this mission is ensuring that our mental health and substance use disorder parity laws are being enforced,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) said recently.