The Department of Health and Human Services this week released a plan to better coordinate federal and state efforts to enforce parity requirements under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and other federal laws. The 21st Century Cures Act directed HHS to develop the plan to ensure health plans that provide mental health or substance use disorder benefits provide them on a par with their medical/surgical benefits. Among other actions, the plan calls for the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefit Security Administration to establish dedicated enforcement teams and for DOL and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to release annual data on their parity enforcement activities. HHS also plans to regularly update its parity website for consumers; and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is developing a compliance toolkit for states, employers and insurers and a “clear language” tool for families and caregivers. Federal agencies also have issued several consumer publications and other guidance documents. According to HHS, DOL cited employer-based plans for 92 violations related to the MHPAEA in fiscal year 2017 while CMS has investigated five non-federal governmental plans since 2016.

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