July 26, 2022

Van Hollen, Warren, Porter, Cárdenas Reintroduce the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act

Today, United States Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representatives Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) in reintroducing the bipartisan Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act, legislation that would strengthen oversight and enforcement of federal mental health and substance use disorder parity laws. This bill was previously introduced in 2016, 2018, and again in 2019. For the first time, the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act of 2022 will be introduced with bipartisan support.  

This Congress, the legislation has been updated to account for improvements passed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA). The CAA granted the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor (DOL), and Treasury increased oversight authority to help provide new insights into insurance companies’ compliance with federal parity laws.  

In February of this year, the Departments issued their first report following the implementation of these new provisions and documented significant gaps in compliance, confirming that more needs to be done to strengthen enforcement and protect consumers.

The updated legislation, which builds on the provisions passed in the CAA, would: 

  • Increase transparency by requiring insurance plans and third-party administrators to submit annual reports with information on any non-quantitative treatment limitations and to disclose additional data on denial rates, reimbursement rates, and network adequacy;
  • Encourage compliance by ensuring that HHS, DOL, and Treasury conduct a review of no fewer than 100 plans per year, including 40 randomized audits;
  • Establish a toll-free telephone number and an online Consumer Parity Portal to offer patients and providers a centralized website hosting information on patients’ rights, findings from oversight efforts, and resources to ensure that health care consumers receive the protections they are guaranteed by law; and
  • Support consumers by encouraging collaboration across federal agencies and with states, including by awarding grants to establish, expand, or provide support for offices of health insurance consumer assistance and health insurance ombudsman programs.  

This legislation is co-sponsored in addition to Senator Van Hollen by Senators Baldwin (D-Wis.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Booker (D-N.J.), Brown (D-Ohio), Kaine (D-Va.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Luján (D-N.M.), Markey (D-Mass.), Murphy (D-Conn.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Smith (D-Minn.), and Stabenow (D-Mich.) and by Representatives Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Trone (D-Md.), Doggett (D-Tex.), Raskin (D-Md.), Barragán (D-Calif.), Butterfield (D-N.C.), McEachin (D-Va.), Napolitano (D-Calif.), Jayapal (D-Wash.), Doyle (D-Pa.), Deutch (D-Fla.), Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), and Kuster (D-N.H.). 

It has received support from over 50 advocacy and expert organizations, including:

The American Psychiatric Association; American Psychological Association; Legal Action Center; National Alliance on Mental Illness; The Kennedy Forum; 2020 Mom; American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry; American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare; American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work; American Association on Health and Disability; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; American Group Psychotherapy Association; American Occupational Therapy Association; American Psychoanalytic Association; American Society of Addiction Medicine; Anxiety & Depression Association of America; Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare; Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law; Campaign for Trauma Informed Policy and Practice; Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; Children's Hospital Association; Clinical Social Work Association; College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists; Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance; Eating Disorders Coalition; Faces & Voices of Recovery; Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice; Inseparable; International OCD Foundation; International Society for Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses; Jewish Federations of North America; Lakeshore Foundation; Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance; Mental Health America; NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals; National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health; National Association for Behavioral Healthcare; National Association for Children's Behavioral Health; National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers; National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; National Association of Social Workers; National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors; National Eating Disorders Association; National Federation of Families; National Health Care for the Homeless Council; National League for Nursing; Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies; No Health without Mental Health; Partnership to End Addiction; Residential Eating Disorders Consortium; RI International; School Social Work Association of America; and SMART Recovery.

Text of the bill is available here.