WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra met with health insurance and business leaders on May 3 to discuss compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, adequacy of in-network providers and mental health and substance use disorder treatment during the pandemic, as the nation observes Mental Health Awareness Month.

MHPAEA is a federal law that, in general, requires health insurance providers to cover mental health and substance use disorder benefits the same way they cover medical or surgical health benefits.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget supports his whole-of-government strategy to transform mental health services for all Americans. This collaboration between the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services is part of the President’s Unity Agenda and the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to addressing the nation’s behavioral health crises and strengthening mental health of all Americans.

“Since the start of the Biden-Harris administration, enforcement of mental health and substance use disorder parity laws has been one of the Department of Labor’s top priorities,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Group health plans and insurers must be able to show us that they are providing mental health treatment coverage the way the law requires. We are grateful to have had this earnest conversation, and look forward to learning more about the work health plans and insurers are doing to achieve parity and increase access to care.”

“Without true parity for mental and behavioral health services, we have no hope of transforming mental health and helping to reduce stigma and increase access to care,” said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. “Parity in mental and behavioral health services is a basic right. It’s a right I have long fought for in my career, and now as HHS Secretary where across my department and in partnership with my colleagues, I am committed to aggressively advancing.” 

The Secretaries met with industry leaders in a constructive dialogue, with commitments from attendees to continue to engage on these critical issues. They also raised the importance of contraceptive coverage and the need to do more to ensure women and families get this essential care.

Secretary Walsh and Secretary Becerra were joined at yesterday’s event by representatives of the American Benefits Council, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, Beacon Health Options, the BlueCross BlueShield Association, Cigna Corp., the HR Policy Association, the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, the National Business Group on Health, the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, the United Health Group and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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