ERISA Industry Committee launches ad campaign against updates to mental health parity regs

A major employer group is launching an ad campaign to oppose significant updates made by the Biden administration to mental health parity requirements.

The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) represents large employers that offer benefits to their workforces, and the organization is launching a new television and print ad campaign that it says highlights "the potential negative implications of federal rule changes to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA)."

The White House unveiled a slew of regulatory updates to mental health parity requirements last summer, with rules issued jointly by the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury. Proposed changes include reviews of provider networks to identify where there are gaps and additional restrictions on prior authorization for behavioral health.

ERIC said in a statement that overhauls to mental health parity could worsen access or force employers to rethink coverage entirely.

“Our government and health care industry leaders absolutely need to work together to increase access to quality mental health care for all Americans, but these proposed changes could have unintentional yet catastrophic impacts on the progress that has already been made,” said Melissa Bartlett, ERIC’s senior vice president of health policy, in a press release. “There are numerous, proven initiatives to improve access to care: expanding telehealth services, integrating mental health training for primary care providers, and incentivizing more medical students to enter this field.”

ERIC said it plans to run the ads on cable television as well as streaming platforms.

The regulatory changes garnered a similarly negative response from health plans. AHIP said in submitted comments last October that the updates may not improve access to behavioral health while putting onerous compliance requirements in place.