To kick off Mental Health Awareness Month, HR Policy President and CEO Tim Bartl met with DOL Secretary Walsh, HHS Secretary Becerra, and other stakeholders to discuss employer efforts to increase access to behavioral health services and encourage the Departments to work with employers to develop clearer guidance to help achieve mental health parity.
The Secretaries were particularly interested in improving timely access to in-network providers, improving mental health parity, and expanding telehealth.
Bartl emphasized to the Secretaries:
- Over 80% of HR Policy members said their wellbeing benefits are a critical part of their corporate culture and an important part of their diversity and inclusion efforts;
- 23% are implementing a new third party administrator or carrier to improve mental health benefits;
- 20% are adding or expanding a third-party network like Lyra or Ginger to increase access; and
- Expanding the Collaborative Care Model and requiring behavioral health providers to periodically notify the employer plans and issuers if they are accepting new patients and how long it takes to get an initial appointment would help expand access to mental health services.
Other stakeholders echoed HR Policy comments submitted to the Senate Finance Committee on March 30, 2022.
Employee expectations regarding wellbeing benefits and employer responses will be discussed at our CHRO Summit on June 1, 2022.
Outlook: In July 2022, DOL plans to release additional and more extensive guidance regarding employer mental health parity obligations. HR Policy will be discussing that proposal with DOL and commenting on the draft guidance when it comes out.