Agencies Release Report on Mental Health Parity

The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury have issued their 2022 Report to Congress on the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). The report finds that health insurers are failing to deliver the mental health care coverage parity as required by law; not even one of the 1,000 parity analyses requested were viewed as sufficient. Treatment for autism and applied behavior analysis therapy were two areas that frequently stood out in terms of coverage exclusions. The report includes recommendations to Congress on how to strengthen mental health parity, such as the use of civil monetary penalties for violation of the law. Such a provision was proposed in the Build Back Better Act. The report also recommends that the Department of Labor be given the authority to directly pursue parity violations by third parties that provide administrative services to health plans.

GAO Says HHS At High Risk of Mismanagement

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has placed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on its list of agencies at high risk of mismanagement and abuse if significant changes are not made. The list, which is a part of the GAO’s evaluation of the federal pandemic response, includes approximately three dozen other agencies and federal programs. GAO’s assessment indicates that leadership shortcomings at HHS undermine its efforts to address public health challenges, including the response to the coronavirus pandemic and other natural disasters. GAO asserts that HHS has failed to delineate roles and responsibilities and to fix long-standing problems in response to the pandemic. HHS also faces difficulties managing the medical supply chain, coordinating with other agencies, collecting and analyzing data, and clearly communicating with the public. Of the 115 recommendations GAO has made to HHS over the past 15 years related to public health emergencies, 72 have not been fully implemented.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Markups

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing “Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: Responding to the Growing Crisis;” 10:00 a.m.; February 1

House Ways and Means Committee hearing on America’s mental health crisis; 10:00 a.m., February 2 House Veterans’ Affairs Committee markup of A.N.S. to H.R. 5575, VA Nurse and Physician Assistant RAISE Act and H.R. 6411, STRONG Veterans Act; 2:00 p.m.; February 2

Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth hearing “The Hospital Insurance Trust Fund and the Future of Medicare Financing;” 2:30 p.m.; February 2

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing “FDA User Fee Reauthorization: Ensuring Safe and Effective Drugs and Biologics;” 10:30 a.m.; February 3

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

H.R.6468 — To direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security, to establish a program of entering into partnerships with eligible domestic manufacturers to ensure the availability of qualified personal protective equipment to prepare for and respond to national health or other emergencies, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Griffith, H. Morgan [R-VA-9]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce; Oversight and Reform

H.R.6471 — To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prohibit treatment of certain distributions and reimbursements for certain abortions as qualified medical expenses; Sponsor: Rep. Mooney, Alexander X. [R-WV-2]; Committees: House - Ways and Means

H.R.6474 — To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to raise the limit on contributions to health savings accounts, to remove the requirement to maintain high deductible coverage with respect to such accounts, to include drugs and medicine as qualified medical expenses for the purposes of such accounts, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Van Duyne, Beth [R-TX-24]; Committees: House - Ways and Means

H.Res.886 — Recognizing the roles and the contributions of America’s Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and their critical role in providing quality health care for the public, especially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic; Sponsor: Rep. Schakowsky, Janice D. [D-IL-9]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.6478 — To establish the Office of Supply Chain Resiliency within the Department of Commerce to provide expansion support to companies and supply chains in the United States that are vulnerable to shortages and price increases, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Axne, Cynthia [D-IA-3]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.6483 — To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to clarify reporting requirements for establishments within a foreign country engaged in the manufacture, preparation, propagation, compounding, or processing of an active pharmaceutical ingredient, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Eshoo, Anna G. [D-CA-18]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.6502 — To prohibit the use of Federal funds for any system of records on religious accommodations with respect to any COVID-19 vaccination requirement; Sponsor: Rep. Norman, Ralph [R-SC-5]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.6507 — To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow for the establish of child health savings accounts, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Van Duyne, Beth [R-TX-24]; Committees: House - Ways and Means

H.R.6508 — To amend title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act to extend group health plan and health insurance coverage to parents of enrollees if such parents are not eligible to enroll in the Medicare or Medicaid program; Sponsor: Rep. Van Duyne, Beth [R-TX-24]; Committees: House - Ways and Means; Energy and Commerce

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