The Continued Fight for Equal Insurance Coverage

Capital Hill

The passage of a federal mental health parity law nearly a decade ago was an important step in ensuring that people struggling with mental health issues received the insurance coverage they needed. More progress came in the form of the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016, which included the first instance of eating disorders language in legislation, clarifying that it is not acceptable to exclude eating disorder treatment—specifically residential programs—from insurance coverage.

Although this meaningful federal legislation was an enormous victory in the fight for equal coverage, the effectiveness of the law has been mixed, as some insurers have failed to meet regulations.

The Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), which is responsible for enforcing the law, has seen a rise in noncompliance, citing 92 violations in an investigation of 127 plans. But with limited authority to take action against violators and decreased staff, the agency faces an uphill battle in terms of investigating and enforcing violations.

A recent Bloomberg Law article outlines the compliance issues associated with the legislation and what can be done to address noncompliance, reporting that despite setbacks at the EBSA, mental health parity is one of the agency’s top priorities.

The Emily Program’s Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Jillian Lampert, a long-time advocate of mental health parity, was interviewed for the article. Dr. Lampert stressed the importance of communicating guidance to help people understand the process for reporting coverage issues.

Though disappointed that the federal parity law hasn’t been as effective as she and other eating disorder advocates had hoped, Dr. Lampert remains hopeful.

“We’ve been making progress in the last two years; we’ll keep going until we get what clients and families need from parity,” she said.

Read the full Bloomberg Law article here (used with permission).

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