House Passes Mental Health Bill with Parity Provisions

On July 6, 2016, by a vote of 422 to 2 the US House overwhelmingly voted to pass HR 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

The legislation as reported by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and passed includes parity language backed by the Parity Implementation Coalition.

Parity provisions in the bill include:

  • Requiring the issuance of a Compliance Program Guidance Document within 6 months of enactment intended to provide clarity around which practices are compliant with the law by including examples of compliance and non-compliance with Mental Health Parity and Addition Equity Act (MHPAEA) and recommendations for how to avoid violations.
  • The issuance of clarifying guidance by the Departments on:
    • Disclosure, including clarifying information and illustrative examples of methods that plans may use for disclosing information to ensure parity compliance
    • The documents participants, beneficiaries, contractors, providers and authorized representatives must be provided by plans
    • The compliant development and application of non-quantitative treatment limits (NQTLs)
  • The production of an action plan for improved Federal and state coordination related to parity requirements
  • The issuance of a report to Congress summarizing the result of all closed Federal investigations completed during the preceding 12-month period
  • The issuance of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report detailing the extent to which group health plans or health insurance issuers covered by MHPAEA comply with the law

With the recess for the conventions and August break expected to start next Friday, it is likely Senate floor consideration of mental health legislation will wait until at least September. Additionally, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair is expected to hold a hearing on parity at the Committee in September.