October 28, 2016

Patrick J. Kennedy Encouraged by White House Parity Task Force Report Recommendations While Urging Additional Action

Report outlines positive first steps but will require swift additional action from new administration

Washington, D.C. – October 27, 2016 – The White House Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force Final Report, released today, provides the beginnings of a blueprint for ending the unacceptable false starts and broken promises to enforce The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and achieve true equity for mental health and substance use disorders.

I salute the recommendations in the report and the accompanying guidance on how insurers should cover evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. The release of an additional $9.3 million in grants to support state parity compliance enforcement activities is also a positive first step, but more funds will be needed to support regulatory compliance activities at the federal and state levels. Importantly, the consumer guide to disclosure rights does provide clarity to individuals and their loved ones about the information insurance plans must give them when requested.

However, much of what was released today still places the burden of real action squarely on the shoulders of the patients living with these conditions. By emphasizing consumer education efforts, a consumer guide to disclosure rights, and a consumer website portal, we are asking these individuals to take up their own cases when they experience a parity violation, which usually occurs at the height of their crisis.

While today’s report is a positive step in the right direction, the new administration will need to act swiftly to enforce the law, streamline the overly complex health insurance appeals process, update overlapping regulations that impact activities such as utilization management and external review requirements, and release additional funds.

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