Policy Pulse: Parity analyses, ACEs, PTSD disability benefits, and more | The Kennedy Forum

Policy Pulse: Parity analyses, ACEs, PTSD disability benefits, and more
August 10, 2022

Updates & Resources from Our Policy Team

The Kennedy Forum joined 49 other organizations in supporting the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act of 2022 sponsored by Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA) and Tony Cardenas (D-CA) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The legislation would require most health plans to submit the parity compliance analyses they must perform under existing law to federal agencies; disclose data on their denial rates for mental health versus medical/surgical claims and the reasons; provide information on network adequacy and reimbursement rates as a percentage of Medicare rates; require federal regulators to conduct a minimum of 40 random audits of health plans per year; create a central online portal so that consumers can easily access publicly available information and guidance; and dedicate funding for consumer assistance programs to help individuals navigate the complaint process. Read the letter here.

We also supported Senator Angus King (I-ME) and Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) Improving Data Collection for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Act, which would enable a new CDC study of ACEs with a diverse sample population focusing on the connection between ACEs and negative health outcomes, the intensity and frequency of ACEs, and the influence of particular risk and protective factors. The bill would also expand the scope of CDC’s research to include the effects of social, economic, and community conditions on health and well-being. Read the letter, led by Trust for America’s Health, here.

The Senate unanimously passed The Public Safety Officer Support Act, which The Kennedy Forum endorsed. The legislation will improve the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program by creating an avenue for officers to seek disability benefits for work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder as a line of duty injury for eligible officers as well as those who are permanently disabled as a result of attempted suicide. It will also allow families of officers who die by trauma-linked suicide to apply for death benefits by directing the PSOB program to presume that suicides are a result of job duties in certain traumatic circumstances where there is evidence that PTSD or acute stress disorder would be the cause of the injury. The bill, led by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and Reps. David Trone (D-MD) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. More here

Delaware Governor John Carney recently signed three critical mental health bills—endorsed by The Kennedy Forum and others—into law. House bills 300, 301, and 303 will fund more counselors, psychologists, and social workers for Delaware middle schools; facilitate mental health education for K-12; and mandate that health plans in the state cover annual well-being checks. Read more about the impact of the new laws in this Bay to Bay News guest commentary from Angela Kimball of Inseparable. 

Recently, the Senate Commerce Committee passed the Kids Online Safety Act (S.3663) and the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (S.1628). The Kennedy Forum supported this legislation in partnership with the Eating Disorder Coalition for Research, Policy & Action. Both bills are now awaiting a full Senate vote. If passed, these bills would protect children’s privacy, wellbeing, and create a healthier media.


Mental Health Access and Parity Recommendations for Plan Sponsors 
Free guidance for employers from The Path Forward coalition (American Health Policy Institute, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Association Foundation, Bowman Family Foundation, The Jed Foundation, the HR Policy Association, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, and the National Alliance of Health Care Purchaser Coalitions). 
Updated Map of States that Have Adopted The Kennedy Forum’s Models to Increase Access to CareWe work closely with state legislatures and partners across the country to hold health plans accountable for equal coverage of mental health and addiction treatment services. Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada, Montana, and Oregon have all recently taken action to protect their residents.  Policy questions? Email our policy team at info@TheKennedyForum.org.