A top U.S. Department of Labor official has attacked the mental health bill that the House passed Wednesday.
The bill would not level the playing field between mental health benefits and other types of benefits, and it is “very clearly a broad mandate,” Bradford Campbell, the assistant secretary in charge of the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, said here at a conference organized by the Self Insured Institute of America, Simpsonville, S.C.
If the House bill, H.R. 1424, became law, it would require plans that offer any mental health benefits to expand their offerings to include all diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Campbell said.
That change would put self-insured plans in the position of deciding between offering no mental health benefits or all mental health benefits, Campbell said.
Campbell said the bill also includes “very confused” language regarding states’ ability to bypass the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which normally prohibits states from regulating employee benefit plans.
Two provisions in the bill seem to allow states to impose mandates, while another seems to try to maintain the status quo, Campbell said.
“You could only imagine” the results if states, and even municipalities, are given the ability to impose their own benefits mandates, Campbell said.
Employers would be required, among other things, to keep extensive records on where employees worked to ensure compliance with local requirements. Campbell warned.
“These are the kinds of things that ERISA was intentionally designed to prevent,” Campbell said.