Mental Health Connecticut (MHC) applauds Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha for their action today in filing an amicus brief to reverse an overturned ruling in the 2019 landmark Wit v. United Behavioral Health (UBH) case. If not reversed, this decision by courts could set a dangerous precedent for how behavioral health treatment is covered nationwide for millions of Americans.
Together, with former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, lead author of the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, the Attorneys General held a press conference to announce their plans to file the amicus, and to stand with advocates and consumers of private health insurance plans to ensure Federal and State parity laws are held in compliance.
In 2019, a federal district court judge ruled that UBH, the nation’s largest managed behavioral health care company, wrongfully denied mental health and addiction treatment coverage to tens of thousands of subscribers. In March 2022, that ruling was overturned, setting a dangerous precedent for how treatment can be covered nationwide. The ruling in 2019 found that UBH violated Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Illinois state law in denying treatment to state residents. In March 2022, however, the 3-judge appellate panel ignored these findings by the federal district court when it reversed the trial court ruling.
“In March of this year, MHC joined 12 other Connecticut non-profit and community leaders in a letter requesting Attorney General Tong to file the amicus brief asking for all judges before the full Ninth Circuit to reverse this overturned ruling. We thank AG Tong and his team for taking this pro-active approach in this case and in addressing the opioid crisis. We look forward to working with his team, CT legislators, the CT Parity Coalition, the Kennedy Forum, and parity advocates from across the country to continue improving access to care and increasing health equity for all,” Luis B. Perez, President and CEO, Mental Health Connecticut.
Without a reversal in this case, private health insurance companies will have more flexibility to deny behavioral health claims and parity compliance will continue to fall short.
As Attorney General William Tong stated today, “It makes no sense, when facing the worst public health crisis in America, for insurance companies to prioritize profits over people and to stand in the way of treatment and prevention.”
MHC appreciates both Attorneys General for taking the lead in protecting citizens right to access critical mental health services and to further ensure mental health parity in both Connecticut and Rhode Island, and ultimately, across the country.
For more information on behavioral health parity, go to:
“Implications of the Wit Case” via The Kennedy Forum: https://www.thekennedyforum.org/events/game-changer-implications-of-the-wit-v-united-behavioral-health-ruling/
“A landmark legal ruling in the fight for mental health has been overturned”: https://www.thekennedyforum.org/blog/a-landmark-legal-ruling-in-the-fight-for-mental-health-equity-has-been-overturned/The
CT Parity Coalition: www.ctparitycoalition.org
Learn more: https://ctnewsjunkie.com/2022/05/16/ags-tackle-mental-health-parity/