Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Tina Smith, D-Minn., and colleagues in the Senate and House reintroduced the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act to increase oversight and enforcement to ensure that insurance companies cover behavioral health benefits and services in the same way they do physical illnesses.
According to a news release, weak enforcement of existing laws has allowed insurance companies to continue illegal discrimination under the radar, but this legislation would reinforce parity requirements under the Wellstone-Domenici Mental HealthParity and Equity Act by increasing the oversight and resources needed to stop behavioral health discrimination.
"All across our state and country, there are people suffering from behavioral health challenges and addiction, and it is critical we do everything we can to support them and their families on the path to recovery," Klobuchar stated in a news release. "This legislation would ensure that insurance companies are no longer able to discriminate when providing coverage to those seeking behavioral health coverage."
"Our mental health system should be there for people at every age, from nursery to nursing home," Smith stated in the release. "We have a responsibility here in Congress to enforce our landmark mental health parity laws. This legislation makes sure there aren't holes in the net built to catch people when they're struggling and need help."
Originally introduced in the Senate in 2016 and again in 2018, The Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act is intended to:
• Require insurance issuers to disclose to federal regulators how they are making parity decisions, and the rate and reasons for denials of mental health claims;
• Require regulators to conduct no fewer than 12 random audits of health plans and to make public the results of those audits; and
• Establish a Consumer Parity Unit that gives consumers a single place to get information about their rights and to submit complaints with assurance of timely responses.