H.R. and Benefits Managers May Need a "Mental Health Day"
On August 3, 2023, the tri-agencies in charge of enforcing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA)(the Internal Revenue Service; Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration; and Department of Health and Human Services) jointly issued a giant package of guidance/proposed guidance for health plan sponsors and service providers/issuers, including:
newly proposed regulations (395 pages – yes, you read that right): https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/08/03/2023-15945/requirements-related-to-the-mental-health-parity-and-addiction-equity-act;
a technical release (asking for comments regarding data collection issues): https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/employers-and-advisers/guidance/technical-releases/23-01;
DOL’s mandated report to Congress about their own enforcement activities and findings (quick take – nearly every plan is still failing): https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/mental-health-parity/report-to-congress-2023-mhpaea-comparative-analysis; and
a 2022 MHPAEA Enforcement “Fact Sheet”: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/mental-health-parity/mhpaea-enforcement-2022.
The mental health parity requirements are not new, but the level of enforcement is. Although service providers generally have the data and expertise, plan sponsors are still primarily responsible for compliance. Based on the mandates of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, DOL enforcement activities over the past 2 years, comments by DOL at recent conferences and this recent guidance, employers can expect a continued focus on enforcement related to health plans and in particular, the mental health parity requirements and will need to budget their resources accordingly.
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Contact your Boutwell Fay attorney if you have any questions on this topic or email us at email@example.com.