The AHA and other hospital and health care organizations Friday urged the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to rehear Wit v. United Behavioral Health, a case that former congressman and mental health advocate Patrick Kennedy has described as the “Brown v. Board of Education for the mental health community.” The 9th Circuit reversed a district court ruling that found the nation’s largest health insurer routinely denied patients access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment deemed medically necessary and consistent with generally accepted standards of care.  

The decision “should have been affirmed in view of the district court’s well-grounded evidentiary findings and legal analysis,” the organizations said in a friend-of-the-court brief. “Instead, the panel’s brief Memorandum ruling deviated from established standards of appellate review and ERISA principles. Most importantly, the panel ruling slammed shut the door to patient access to safe, effective, and state-of-the-art treatment for behavioral health and substance use disorders and sets a dangerous precedent for patients throughout this Circuit and the country.” 

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