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Porter, Kennedy’s Strengthening Behavioral Health Parity Act Clears Key Committee Hurdle

Legislation will hold insurers accountable for violations of parity laws

U.S. Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) and U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy III (MA-04) today applauded the bipartisan passage of their Strengthening Behavioral Health Parity Act by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Under the legislation, the Department of Labor will be required to conduct random audits, and if they find that insurance plans are not abiding by existing parity laws, they will either be able to correct their actions or face public scrutiny for not doing so.

“Mental health care is health care, and it’s unacceptable that insurance companies don’t treat it that way,” said Porter. “We need to hold big insurance companies accountable for following an existing requirement that they treat mental health care as equal to other types of medical care. I am proud to work across the aisle to fulfill the promise of parity for Americans struggling with mental and behavior health.”

“Until we shine a light on the worst violators of behavioral health parity laws, there will always be a mental health and addiction crisis in this country,” said Kennedy. “By requiring that the government publicly share findings of these audits, we will force regulators to finally protect patients and we will expose insurance companies that have skirted our laws for too long. Our nation’s failure to enshrine and enforce parity laws has led to countless preventable deaths and it must end now.”

Porter and Kennedy have led efforts to strengthen behavioral health parity laws since their elections to the House of Representatives. Kennedy first introduced the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act in 2015, which would strengthen accountability, increase transparency and create a patient portal for parity violations. In 2019, Porter introduced the Mental Health Parity Compliance Act which would require audits to improve health plan compliance with existing law.

The Strengthening Behavioral Health Parity Act is cosponsored by Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12).