Congressman Joe Kennedy

Representing the 4th District of Massachusetts

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KENNEDY: CONGRESS MUST ACT ON PARITY ENFORCEMENT

Oct 27, 2016
Press Release
White House Task Force report includes several Kennedy proposals to ensure compliance with mental health parity laws

Newton, MA – Congressman Joe Kennedy III today welcomed the official recommendations of the President’s Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force and called on Congress to enact even stronger reforms.
 
Reflecting the proposals included in Kennedy’s Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act, the Task Force called for federal audits of behavioral health care plans, increased disclosure requirements and the creation of an online parity portal for patients.
 
“It is essential that Congress takes bipartisan action to not only codify many of the critical reforms suggested by the White House Parity Task Force today, but enact even stronger enforcement,” said Congressman Kennedy. "The Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act will add teeth to our parity laws and hold insurers accountable for unjustly denied mental health claims. As Congress continues to work towards a comprehensive mental health bill in the months ahead, these provisions must be included."
 
“The law is clear that insurance companies must treat mental health and substance abuse problems with the same access and coverage as other medical problems, but many companies make it far harder for people seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment to get the help they need.  The administration has just taken first steps to help create real parity,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “and I urge the next administration to continue this work so that no one is denied insurance coverage that they are entitled to.” 

The Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act would require insurance issuers to disclose annually to federal regulators the analysis they perform in making parity determinations as well as the rates and reasons for mental health claims denials versus medical/surgical denials. It also would require the Department of Health & Human Services, the Department of Labor and the Department of Treasury to undertake a minimum of 12 random audits of health plans per year to discourage noncompliance with existing parity laws. Finally, it would establish a Patient Parity Portal, allowing consumers to easily access all publicly available parity information and submit complaints in a central online clearinghouse. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced companion legislation in the United States Senate.
 
Since being elected, Congressman Kennedy has been a vocal advocate for systemic reform of the mental health system and needed investment in the full continuum of care. He has focused on enforcement of mental health parity laws, expanded access to substance abuse treatment, and an improved reimbursement system for providers. In addition to his parity legislation Kennedy has introduced a Medicaid Bump to enhance the federal match for new, state-based mental health spending and the Fair Care for Kids Act to remove barriers to mental health treatment for children in Medicaid. 
 
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For Immediate Release:
October 27, 2016
 
Contact:
Emily Kaufman (617) 332-3333
Dan Black (202) 225-5931

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