Washington, D.C. – Today, The Kennedy Forum, founded by Patrick J. Kennedy, lead author of the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, released the statement below following the filings of amicus briefs by the U.S. Department of Labor and by 15 states and Washington, D.C. supporting a rehearing by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Wit v. United Behavioral Health (UBH) case:
“The U.S. Department of Labor’s support for a rehearing in the Wit v. United Behavioral Health (UBH) sends a powerful message that the latest Ninth Circuit panel ruling was deeply flawed and imperils the rights to millions of Americans seeking mental health and addiction treatment. When combined with the amicus brief filed by 15 states and Washington D.C. requesting a rehearing, they are a resounding statement on the need for the Ninth Circuit to rehear the Wit case en banc. We applaud the U.S. Department of Labor and the 15 states and Washington DC for working to ensure mental health and addiction services are essential, accessible, and affordable for our communities.
At The Kennedy Forum, we are working with numerous partners to ensure that mental health and addiction coverage decisions are made consistent with generally accepted standards of care, not insurers’ financial self-interest. If it stands, the latest ruling will mean that more than 50,000 individuals denied mental health or addiction coverage will have no right to reprocessing of their claims, even though UBH was found to have put its self-interest ahead of plan members’. Insurers will also be given carte blanche to use any medical necessity criteria they wish to make coverage determinations, even if such criteria are inconsistent with generally accepted standards of care.
We commend the Department of Labor and the 15 states and Washington D.C. for their support for a rehearing in Wit. In the middle of our nation’s mental health and addiction crisis, we cannot allow insurers to deny individuals the mental health and addiction coverage they need. We will continue to work to ensure that mental health is treated as essential health.”