As Prepared For Delivery:
Good evening, everyone. Thanks for joining us.
Mental health is a growing problem that touches every corner of the country.
As many as 2 in 5 American adults have anxiety or depression.
Tragically, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24 years. In 2021, 13% of high school girls and 7% of boys attempted suicide in 2021.
This is simply unacceptable.
Behind these statistics, of course, are real people who are struggling.
We know that treatment works, and that is why access to mental health providers is crucial for the wellbeing of our families.
In 2020, less than half of Americans with mental health received mental health care.
And too many Americans struggle to get that care covered.
It’s not supposed to be this way.
Fifteen years ago, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was enacted.
That law was passed to ensure that mental health care was treated by our health care system like physical care. Insurers couldn’t make you pay more for a visit to a mental health provider than your physician.
But in the years since, we’ve learned that insurers are evading the mandate of the law. Insurers make it difficult to access mental health coverage in-network.
Consumers are often forced to seek care out-of-network at significantly higher costs and pay out of pocket, or defer care altogether.
This has meant millions of people who have insurance are paying out of pocket when they shouldn’t have to.
One study shows that insured people are well more than twice as likely to be forced to go out-of-network and pay higher fees for mental health care than for physical health care.
One family in Michigan has to spend $12,500 each month to treat their son’s depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.
No one should have to drain their savings or go into debt to get help for themselves or their loved ones.
Too many parents have told us that they can’t find in-network care for their children. One family is forced to pay $800 a month for care.
Access to needed mental health care shouldn’t force anyone to refinance their home.
President Biden believes mental health is health.
As part of his Unity Agenda, President Biden released a comprehensive national strategy to transform how mental health is understood, accessed, and treated.
We need to ensure that Americans can get treated for mental health just like they can get treated for a broken bone or heart condition.
But we still don’t have parity between mental and physical health treatment and coverage.
The Biden-Harris Administration is fixing this problem.
Today, President Biden is announcing a landmark proposed rule to help families get the same access to mental health and substance use benefits as they do physical health.
This rule will stop the industry gaming/evasion that has led millions of people to pay for care even when they have insurance.
And for those that can’t afford to pay out of pocket, they just don’t get the treatment they need.
First, we’re requiring that health plans correct course when they provide inadequate access to mental health care.
Today’s proposed rule would make clear that health plans need to provide equivalent access between their mental health and medical benefits.
Specifically, plans will be required to conduct analyses that show where they are failing to meet their requirements under the law.
We will then require plans to improve access to mental health care and take steps, like including more mental health professionals in their networks or reduce red tape to get care.
Second, this proposed rule would clarify what health plans can and cannot do when they establish coverage policies for mental health.
Specifically, health plans must use similar factors in setting out-of-network payment rates for mental health providers as they do for medical providers.
For example, they can’t use more restrictive prior authorization or narrower networks that make it harder for people to access mental health benefits than medical benefits.
Today’s actions will help the more than 150 million Americans with private health insurance better access mental health benefits through their own plan. With more stable reimbursements from insurers, we expect much more access to needed care.
This will help ensure we finally fulfill the promise of mental health parity required under the law—and ensure that mental health is covered like physical health.
With that, my colleagues at the Domestic Policy Council are happy to take your questions. Thank you.