An executive at a company that manages behavioral health for millions of Americans says Obama administration officials went too far when they expanded behavioral health benefits design disclosure rules.
Meredith Delk, a senior vice president at Magellan Health Inc., says the Obama administration officials had no statutory authority to require plan managers to release so much data about how they develop mental health benefits and addiction treatment benefits.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 requires group health plans to give reasons for benefits denials, and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) now requires a plan to explain denials of behavioral health claims, Delk writes in a comment letter.
The agencies that wrote the MHPAEA regulations, which were published in the Federal Register in November 2013, did implement the MHPAEA disclosure rules in an appropriate way, Delk writes.
“Unfortunately, the regulations then go on to invent alleged disclosure requirements under ERISA that do not exist,” Delk writes.
Delk is asking the three bodies in charge of MHPAEA compliance — the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — to kill a disclosure form created by to implement the MHPAEA benefit plan design disclosure regulations, or at least to revise the form.
The Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness (ABHW), a group for behavioral health and wellness companies, is also asking the “tri agencies” to cut down on the amount of information the MHPAEA regulations and disclosure form require a plan to provide.
“There are better ways to inform consumers about how their plan is implementing parity without overwhelming them with thousands of pages of documentation,” according to Pamela Greenberg, the ABHW president. “We support keeping the disclosure requirements at a level where consumers will understand the information they receive and will not be overwhelmed by a U-Haul truck of complex information.”
Delk and Greenberg were writing to comment on an MHPAEA disclosure form the tri agencies have been developing. The DOL has posted copies of the comment letters here.
The MHPAEA is a successor to an older mental health parity law, the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996.
Neither law requires any employer to offer behavioral health benefits.