June 19, 2024

Proposed Biden rule pushing insurers to boost mental health coverage expected soon, adviser says

President Joe Biden recently announced his administration’s plans to push private insurance companies to offer the same coverage for mental health services as they do for physical health services, improving upon a well-known hole in America’s health care system, according to the White House.

“We must fulfill the promise of true mental health parity for all Americans. Now. Now. Today, my administration is announcing new steps to dramatically expand access to mental health care in America. Our plans would require health insurance plans to identify the gaps in the mental health care that they provide,” Biden said last week.

During his remarks, Biden said that nearly 70% of kids who need treatment for mental health or addiction can’t get it, and in 2020, less than half of adults diagnosed with mental illness received care.

Biden’s domestic policy adviser, Neera Tanded, joined “GMA3” Tuesday to discuss a new rule in the plan that aims to improve access and address the barriers to receiving care.

Neera Tanden, domestic policy advisor for President Joe Biden, is shown during an interview with “GMA3.”

ABC News

DEMARCO MORGAN: So let’s talk about the proposed rule there. What will it accomplish?

TANDEN: Well as the president outlined, today people don’t have access to health coverage if they need mental health care. Essentially, people with insurance too often have to pay out of pocket, because they simply can’t find a provider on their networks that the insurers provide them. So that’s a real challenge. What the president outlined is a rule that will require insurers to offer true coverage for mental health care, meaning they need to have enough doctors, mental health physicians, therapists on their network. They have to get rid of some of the roadblocks like prior authorization, and they have to make sure they’re reimbursing mental health care like they reimburse physical care.

EVA PILGRIM: What’s the timeline for this rule to go into effect?

TANDEN: We don’t have a date certain. We are working as fast as possible, but we expect the rule to be out very soon.

MORGAN: And we’ve talked about coverage. Let’s talk about the other two C’s, care and causes.

TANDEN: Absolutely. The president has a comprehensive approach to mental health care. This rule is really about coverage, means that you should have coverage from your insurer when you need it, but there’s a lot of need out there. And we want to make sure that people have care where they need it. That’s why the president has invested in additional clinics to ensure that there’s care wherever you need it, 24 hours, seven days a week, clinics throughout the country. There are now over 500 mental health and behavioral clinics that the president and the Congress have invested in. There’s also the 988 line. This was legislation created last year that created a 988 line for a lifeline, really, for anyone to call if they have mental health issues, concerns, suicidal thoughts, intense anxiety. It will connect you to the health care you really need.

PILGRIM: The mental health issue is a big problem in this country. It’s obviously something the president can’t do on his own. What’s he hopeful that Congress will do to help out here?

TANDEN: Well, the president has a proposal that invests $85 billion a year in mental health care – that is really in front of the Congress. We hope that they recognize that this is an important issue. Congress has taken important bipartisan steps. The bipartisan Safer Communities Act last year invested in mental health care in schools. It’s creating over 14,000 guidance counselors or it’s investing in 14,000 guidance counselors in schools across the country. So the Congress has acted in a bipartisan way in the past, and we hope it will continue to act in a bipartisan way to address this issue. This is not an issue in red America or blue America. All of America has challenges and we need to address them.

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