Movement for mental health equality hit by turbulence

Senators eager to tackle mental health care this year have faced tough headwinds to ensure equality, the idea that health insurance covers behavioral health and substance abuse on the same level as physical health. I’m facing

Important reasons: For decades, advocates have accused insurance companies of not adequately covering behavioral health services. As the fallout of the pandemic becomes clearer, the issue has become a priority for more lawmakers.

News promotion: In February, the Senate Finance Committee announced five bipartisan mental health “focus areas,” including insurance coverage.

  • The Panel has released discussion drafts on two less controversial areas: telemedicine and youth mental health. However, enforcing “equal” coverage has sparked resistance from insurers and employer groups.
  • One of the issues is the proposed financial penalties for insurers that violate the parity requirements already spelled out in law. A Senate Republican aide said Republicans have “jurisdiction concerns” because the Senate Help Committee shares finances and jurisdiction.
  • parity “probably [be] The aide sums up the last of the five areas,” he said.

Line spacing: Under the 2008 law, insurance companies are supposed to guarantee equal coverage for physical and mental health. However, several federal reports have concluded that this is not the case.

  • Earlier this year, the Department of Labor found that “health plan issuers are failing to provide mental health and substance use disorder benefits equally to those who qualify.”
  • “For example, one health insurance company covered nutritional counseling for medical conditions such as diabetes, but not mental health conditions such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and bulimia. ‘ said the ministry.

Be smart: Premiums and costs can rise if insurers need to cover more mental health care. For companies with a tight labor market, the chances of it being passed on to workers can be particularly grim.

What they say: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), when asked about insurer lobbying on parity, told Axios:

“[Insurance companies] “I always say they’re doing a great job. Everyone’s doing great. They’re doing a great job. We should thank them,” Wyden said.

  • America’s health insurance system issued its own roadmap for parity last month, noting that recent “surprise claims” legislation has increased existing federal oversight.
  • Employers are opposing some of the ongoing parity proposals.

  • In a letter to lawmakers earlier this year, one employers group said the real problem was “a shortage of mental health care providers and a lack of mental health care providers who are unwilling to join our network.” said.

What’s next: Mental health bills could be included in the expected end-of-year comprehensive spending deal, but may not be included in the short-term funding bill due this month to keep the government running. there is.

  • “I think everything is being pushed to Omni[bus]Senator Richard Burr (RN.C.), who leads the Republican equality field, spoke to Axios about mental health efforts in general. Occurs in CR. ”

To the point: Despite the resistance, Wyden continued to shine the spotlight equally, pointing to the early efforts of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D. Minnesota) and Pete Domenisi (RN.M.). I say yes.

  • “A ghost network is exactly what it sounds like. There is no provider, no one directing you to that network. I’m here.
  • Senator Michael Bennett (D-Colorado), chairman of the Democratic Equality Area, said in a statement that he is committed to finding a legislative path in Congress.

Source link