HHS Issues Report on Mental Health Parity Enforcement

In December 2017, HHS released a report on its enforcement of the mental health parity laws. As background, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) requires that the financial requirements and treatment limitations imposed on mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits be no more restrictive than the predominant financial requirements and treatment limitations that apply to substantially all medical and surgical benefits. MHPAEA also imposes several disclosure requirements on group health plans and health insurance issuers.

The report discusses CMS’s enforcement authority, explaining that CMS has primary enforcement authority with respect to MHPAEA only when a state elects not to enforce or fails to substantially enforce MHPAEA. Currently, CMS is enforcing MHPAEA with respect to issuers in four states: Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. In these states, CMS reviews policy forms of issuers in the individual and group markets for compliance with MHPAEA prior to the products being offered for sale in the states.

Additionally, the report highlights five cases that CMS investigated for violations of MHPAEA. All of the cases were investigated in 2016 or later. Four of the five investigations revealed possible non-quantitative treatment limitations, while one investigation revealed a quantitative treatment limitation. The report states that the investigations arose from consumer and professional association complaints, consumer inquiries and plan review following a late MHPAEA opt-out submission, and the investigations involved both fully and self-insured plans.

Although this report does not offer any new information for employer plan sponsors, it does remind employers of the different ways that a plan can violate the MHPAEA. Employers with questions about how MHPAEA affects their compliance requirements should reach out to their advisors for more information.

HHS MHPAEA Enforcement Report »