Biden administration pitches tougher mental health parity standards for payers

The White House is proposing stronger standards for insurers' coverage of mental health services. 

In a July 25 news release, the Biden administration pitched updates to the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which requires payers to cover mental health services with the same standards as physical health. 

The proposed rules would require plans to study the outcomes of their mental health coverage policies, including network size, out-of-network payment policies and prior authorizations. 

The new rules would clarify that plans cannot have more restrictive prior authorization standards or narrow networks for mental healthcare. 

The administration is also proposing closing a loophole in the 2008 act that excluded non-federal government health plans from parity standards. 

"CMS, working in partnership with other agencies, continues to remove barriers and expand access to critical services," CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks LaSure said in a separate July 25 news release. "This rule is a demonstration of the administration's commitment to parity between physical and mental health services and helping to ensure people get the care they need." 

The proposed rule is open for public comment for 60 days. 

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