4 proposed updates to the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act

On July 26, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass,  and California Democrat Reps. Tony Cárdenas and Katie Porter reintroduced an updated Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act, first introduced by Ms. Warren in 2018.

The proposal seeks to strengthen oversight and enforcement of federal mental health and substance-use disorder parity laws, now with bipartisan support.

The proposed updates were made to account for improvements passed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which boosted HHS and U.S. Labor and Treasury department oversight of insurer compliance with federal parity laws, according to Mr. Cárdenas.

The proposed updates to the act would:

  1. Require annual reports from insurance plans and third-party administrators detailing treatment limitations and more data on denial rates, reimbursement rates and network adequacy
  2. Require HHS and the Labor and Treasury departments to conduct annual reviews of at least 100 plans with 40 randomized audits
  3. Create a toll-free phone number and an online consumer parity portal offering patients and providers a centralized website for information on patients’ rights, audit and review findings and resources for patients to ensure all guaranteed protections are enforced properly
  4. Provide benefits for collaboration among federal agencies and states, including awarding grants to offices of health insurance consumer assistance

The Mental Health Liaison Group, a coalition of national mental health and addiction organizations, wrote a letter endorsing the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act when it was introduced in 2019. 

In a written statement from the organization, it said: "Given the poor compliance of issuers and health plans in performing the comparative analyses required by law, as revealed by the federal agencies' report to Congress in January 2022, we are united in the belief that more action is needed."

According to Mr. Cárdenas' website, more than 50 advocacy and expert organizations support updates to the act.

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