Statement of Patrick J. Kennedy on New York Psychiatric Association v. UnitedHealth Group Ruling

“Today was a major turning point for mental health parity in the United States. In a precedent-setting ruling, the Second Court of Appeals in New York found that individuals whose rights have been violated under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act can sue their health plans directly, rather than their employers or plan sponsors. This is exactly what was intended when the law was passed. As outlined in an amicus brief I filed with the court, the earlier decision eroded this fundamental protection for patients under the law. Today’s ruling is a clear victory for patients and their families.

While we celebrate this ruling, we must also acknowledge that it should not have been needed. If the parity law was fully implemented and enforced, violations would be rare or nonexistent, and those seeking services could focus on their care, instead of costly and time-consuming litigation. That’s why we need the Departments of Health and Human Services and Labor to issue long overdue guidance to insurers about their disclosure requirements under the law, and we need these departments and all states to start exercising strong oversight. While this ruling is a major step forward, we have a lot more work to do, and patients cannot afford to wait.”

Read a copy of the decision here.

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“We stand on the doorstep to make momentous progress in advancing the cause of this new civil rights struggle started by the work of President Kennedy over 50 years ago.”
— Patrick J. Kennedy