Statement of Patrick J. Kennedy on New York Psychiatric Association v. UnitedHealth Group Ruling
- August 20, 2015
“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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Just as President Kennedy rallied the nation to dream big and set audacious goals 50 years ago, The Kennedy Forum seeks to set a new standard for the future of health care in the United States.
Our mission is big, and the stakes are clear. We seek to unite the health care system, and rally the mental health community around a common set of principles: Fully implement the 2008 parity law, bring business leaders and government agencies together to eliminate issues of stigma, work with providers to guarantee equal access to care, ensure that policymakers have the tools they need to craft better policy, and give consumers a way to understand their rights.