[USC02] 42 USC 300gg-26: Parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefits
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42 USC 300gg-26: Parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefits Text contains those laws in effect on October 21, 2019
From Title 42-THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARECHAPTER 6A-PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICESUBCHAPTER XXV-REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGEPart A-Individual and Group Market ReformsSubpart 2-Exclusion of Plans; Enforcement; Preemption

§300gg–26. Parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefits

(a) In general

(1) Aggregate lifetime limits

In the case of a group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage that provides both medical and surgical benefits and mental health or substance use disorder benefits-

(A) No lifetime limit

If the plan or coverage does not include an aggregate lifetime limit on substantially all medical and surgical benefits, the plan or coverage may not impose any aggregate lifetime limit on mental health or substance use disorder benefits.

(B) Lifetime limit

If the plan or coverage includes an aggregate lifetime limit on substantially all medical and surgical benefits (in this paragraph referred to as the "applicable lifetime limit"), the plan or coverage shall either-

(i) apply the applicable lifetime limit both to the medical and surgical benefits to which it otherwise would apply and to mental health and substance use disorder benefits and not distinguish in the application of such limit between such medical and surgical benefits and mental health and substance use disorder benefits; or

(ii) not include any aggregate lifetime limit on mental health or substance use disorder benefits that is less than the applicable lifetime limit.

(C) Rule in case of different limits

In the case of a plan or coverage that is not described in subparagraph (A) or (B) and that includes no or different aggregate lifetime limits on different categories of medical and surgical benefits, the Secretary shall establish rules under which subparagraph (B) is applied to such plan or coverage with respect to mental health and substance use disorder benefits by substituting for the applicable lifetime limit an average aggregate lifetime limit that is computed taking into account the weighted average of the aggregate lifetime limits applicable to such categories.

(2) Annual limits

In the case of a group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage that provides both medical and surgical benefits and mental health or substance use disorder benefits-

(A) No annual limit

If the plan or coverage does not include an annual limit on substantially all medical and surgical benefits, the plan or coverage may not impose any annual limit on mental health or substance use disorder benefits.

(B) Annual limit

If the plan or coverage includes an annual limit on substantially all medical and surgical benefits (in this paragraph referred to as the "applicable annual limit"), the plan or coverage shall either-

(i) apply the applicable annual limit both to medical and surgical benefits to which it otherwise would apply and to mental health and substance use disorder benefits and not distinguish in the application of such limit between such medical and surgical benefits and mental health and substance use disorder benefits; or

(ii) not include any annual limit on mental health or substance use disorder benefits that is less than the applicable annual limit.

(C) Rule in case of different limits

In the case of a plan or coverage that is not described in subparagraph (A) or (B) and that includes no or different annual limits on different categories of medical and surgical benefits, the Secretary shall establish rules under which subparagraph (B) is applied to such plan or coverage with respect to mental health and substance use disorder benefits by substituting for the applicable annual limit an average annual limit that is computed taking into account the weighted average of the annual limits applicable to such categories.

(3) Financial requirements and treatment limitations

(A) In general

In the case of a group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage that provides both medical and surgical benefits and mental health or substance use disorder benefits, such plan or coverage shall ensure that-

(i) the financial requirements applicable to such mental health or substance use disorder benefits are no more restrictive than the predominant financial requirements applied to substantially all medical and surgical benefits covered by the plan (or coverage), and there are no separate cost sharing requirements that are applicable only with respect to mental health or substance use disorder benefits; and

(ii) the treatment limitations applicable to such mental health or substance use disorder benefits are no more restrictive than the predominant treatment limitations applied to substantially all medical and surgical benefits covered by the plan (or coverage) and there are no separate treatment limitations that are applicable only with respect to mental health or substance use disorder benefits.

(B) Definitions

In this paragraph:

(i) Financial requirement

The term "financial requirement" includes deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket expenses, but excludes an aggregate lifetime limit and an annual limit subject to paragraphs (1) and (2).

(ii) Predominant

A financial requirement or treatment limit is considered to be predominant if it is the most common or frequent of such type of limit or requirement.

(iii) Treatment limitation

The term "treatment limitation" includes limits on the frequency of treatment, number of visits, days of coverage, or other similar limits on the scope or duration of treatment.

(4) Availability of plan information

The criteria for medical necessity determinations made under the plan with respect to mental health or substance use disorder benefits (or the health insurance coverage offered in connection with the plan with respect to such benefits) shall be made available by the plan administrator (or the health insurance issuer offering such coverage) in accordance with regulations to any current or potential participant, beneficiary, or contracting provider upon request. The reason for any denial under the plan (or coverage) of reimbursement or payment for services with respect to mental health or substance use disorder benefits in the case of any participant or beneficiary shall, on request or as otherwise required, be made available by the plan administrator (or the health insurance issuer offering such coverage) to the participant or beneficiary in accordance with regulations.

(5) Out-of-network providers

In the case of a plan or coverage that provides both medical and surgical benefits and mental health or substance use disorder benefits, if the plan or coverage provides coverage for medical or surgical benefits provided by out-of-network providers, the plan or coverage shall provide coverage for mental health or substance use disorder benefits provided by out-of-network providers in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of this section.

(6) Compliance program guidance document

(A) In general

Not later than 12 months after December 13, 2016, the Secretary, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Inspector General of the Department of Labor, and the Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury, shall issue a compliance program guidance document to help improve compliance with this section, section 1185a of title 29, and section 9812 of title 26, as applicable. In carrying out this paragraph, the Secretaries may take into consideration the 2016 publication of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor, entitled "Warning Signs - Plan or Policy Non-Quantitative Treatment Limitations (NQTLs) that Require Additional Analysis to Determine Mental Health Parity Compliance".

(B) Examples illustrating compliance and noncompliance

(i) In general

The compliance program guidance document required under this paragraph shall provide illustrative, de-identified examples (that do not disclose any protected health information or individually identifiable information) of previous findings of compliance and noncompliance with this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable, based on investigations of violations of such sections, including-

(I) examples illustrating requirements for information disclosures and nonquantitative treatment limitations; and

(II) descriptions of the violations uncovered during the course of such investigations.

(ii) Nonquantitative treatment limitations

To the extent that any example described in clause (i) involves a finding of compliance or noncompliance with regard to any requirement for nonquantitative treatment limitations, the example shall provide sufficient detail to fully explain such finding, including a full description of the criteria involved for approving medical and surgical benefits and the criteria involved for approving mental health and substance use disorder benefits.

(iii) Access to additional information regarding compliance

In developing and issuing the compliance program guidance document required under this paragraph, the Secretaries specified in subparagraph (A)-

(I) shall enter into interagency agreements with the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Inspector General of the Department of Labor, and the Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury to share findings of compliance and noncompliance with this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable; and

(II) shall seek to enter into an agreement with a State to share information on findings of compliance and noncompliance with this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable.

(C) Recommendations

The compliance program guidance document shall include recommendations to advance compliance with this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable, and encourage the development and use of internal controls to monitor adherence to applicable statutes, regulations, and program requirements. Such internal controls may include illustrative examples of nonquantitative treatment limitations on mental health and substance use disorder benefits, which may fail to comply with this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable, in relation to nonquantitative treatment limitations on medical and surgical benefits.

(D) Updating the compliance program guidance document

The Secretary, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Inspector General of the Department of Labor, and the Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury, shall update the compliance program guidance document every 2 years to include illustrative, de-identified examples (that do not disclose any protected health information or individually identifiable information) of previous findings of compliance and noncompliance with this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable.

(7) Additional guidance

(A) In general

Not later than 12 months after December 13, 2016, the Secretary, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of the Treasury shall issue guidance to group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage to assist such plans and issuers in satisfying the requirements of this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable.

(B) Disclosure

(i) Guidance for plans and issuers

The guidance issued under this paragraph shall include clarifying information and illustrative examples of methods that group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage may use for disclosing information to ensure compliance with the requirements under this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable, (and any regulations promulgated pursuant to such sections, as applicable).

(ii) Documents for participants, beneficiaries, contracting providers, or authorized representatives

The guidance issued under this paragraph shall include clarifying information and illustrative examples of methods that group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage may use to provide any participant, beneficiary, contracting provider, or authorized representative, as applicable, with documents containing information that the health plans or issuers are required to disclose to participants, beneficiaries, contracting providers, or authorized representatives to ensure compliance with this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable, compliance with any regulation issued pursuant to such respective section, or compliance with any other applicable law or regulation. Such guidance shall include information that is comparative in nature with respect to-

(I) nonquantitative treatment limitations for both medical and surgical benefits and mental health and substance use disorder benefits;

(II) the processes, strategies, evidentiary standards, and other factors used to apply the limitations described in subclause (I); and

(III) the application of the limitations described in subclause (I) to ensure that such limitations are applied in parity with respect to both medical and surgical benefits and mental health and substance use disorder benefits.

(C) Nonquantitative treatment limitations

The guidance issued under this paragraph shall include clarifying information and illustrative examples of methods, processes, strategies, evidentiary standards, and other factors that group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage may use regarding the development and application of nonquantitative treatment limitations to ensure compliance with this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable, (and any regulations promulgated pursuant to such respective section), including-

(i) examples of methods of determining appropriate types of nonquantitative treatment limitations with respect to both medical and surgical benefits and mental health and substance use disorder benefits, including nonquantitative treatment limitations pertaining to-

(I) medical management standards based on medical necessity or appropriateness, or whether a treatment is experimental or investigative;

(II) limitations with respect to prescription drug formulary design; and

(III) use of fail-first or step therapy protocols;


(ii) examples of methods of determining-

(I) network admission standards (such as credentialing); and

(II) factors used in provider reimbursement methodologies (such as service type, geographic market, demand for services, and provider supply, practice size, training, experience, and licensure) as such factors apply to network adequacy;


(iii) examples of sources of information that may serve as evidentiary standards for the purposes of making determinations regarding the development and application of nonquantitative treatment limitations;

(iv) examples of specific factors, and the evidentiary standards used to evaluate such factors, used by such plans or issuers in performing a nonquantitative treatment limitation analysis;

(v) examples of how specific evidentiary standards may be used to determine whether treatments are considered experimental or investigative;

(vi) examples of how specific evidentiary standards may be applied to each service category or classification of benefits;

(vii) examples of methods of reaching appropriate coverage determinations for new mental health or substance use disorder treatments, such as evidence-based early intervention programs for individuals with a serious mental illness and types of medical management techniques;

(viii) examples of methods of reaching appropriate coverage determinations for which there is an indirect relationship between the covered mental health or substance use disorder benefit and a traditional covered medical and surgical benefit, such as residential treatment or hospitalizations involving voluntary or involuntary commitment; and

(ix) additional illustrative examples of methods, processes, strategies, evidentiary standards, and other factors for which the Secretary determines that additional guidance is necessary to improve compliance with this section, section 1185a of title 29, or section 9812 of title 26, as applicable.

(D) Public comment

Prior to issuing any final guidance under this paragraph, the Secretary shall provide a public comment period of not less than 60 days during which any member of the public may provide comments on a draft of the guidance.

(b) Construction

Nothing in this section shall be construed-

(1) as requiring a group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage to provide any mental health or substance use disorder benefits; or

(2) in the case of a group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage that provides mental health or substance use disorder benefits, as affecting the terms and conditions of the plan or coverage relating to such benefits under the plan or coverage, except as provided in subsection (a).

(c) Exemptions

(1) Small employer exemption

This section shall not apply to any group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage for any plan year of a small employer (as defined in section 300gg–91(e)(4) of this title, except that for purposes of this paragraph such term shall include employers with 1 employee in the case of an employer residing in a State that permits small groups to include a single individual).

(2) Cost exemption

(A) In general

With respect to a group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, if the application of this section to such plan (or coverage) results in an increase for the plan year involved of the actual total costs of coverage with respect to medical and surgical benefits and mental health and substance use disorder benefits under the plan (as determined and certified under subparagraph (C)) by an amount that exceeds the applicable percentage described in subparagraph (B) of the actual total plan costs, the provisions of this section shall not apply to such plan (or coverage) during the following plan year, and such exemption shall apply to the plan (or coverage) for 1 plan year. An employer may elect to continue to apply mental health and substance use disorder parity pursuant to this section with respect to the group health plan (or coverage) involved regardless of any increase in total costs.

(B) Applicable percentage

With respect to a plan (or coverage), the applicable percentage described in this subparagraph shall be-

(i) 2 percent in the case of the first plan year in which this section is applied; and

(ii) 1 percent in the case of each subsequent plan year.

(C) Determinations by actuaries

Determinations as to increases in actual costs under a plan (or coverage) for purposes of this section shall be made and certified by a qualified and licensed actuary who is a member in good standing of the American Academy of Actuaries. All such determinations shall be in a written report prepared by the actuary. The report, and all underlying documentation relied upon by the actuary, shall be maintained by the group health plan or health insurance issuer for a period of 6 years following the notification made under subparagraph (E).

(D) 6-month determinations

If a group health plan (or a health insurance issuer offering coverage in connection with a group health plan) seeks an exemption under this paragraph, determinations under subparagraph (A) shall be made after such plan (or coverage) has complied with this section for the first 6 months of the plan year involved.

(E) Notification

(i) In general

A group health plan (or a health insurance issuer offering coverage in connection with a group health plan) that, based upon a certification described under subparagraph (C), qualifies for an exemption under this paragraph, and elects to implement the exemption, shall promptly notify the Secretary, the appropriate State agencies, and participants and beneficiaries in the plan of such election.

(ii) Requirement

A notification to the Secretary under clause (i) shall include-

(I) a description of the number of covered lives under the plan (or coverage) involved at the time of the notification, and as applicable, at the time of any prior election of the cost-exemption under this paragraph by such plan (or coverage);

(II) for both the plan year upon which a cost exemption is sought and the year prior, a description of the actual total costs of coverage with respect to medical and surgical benefits and mental health and substance use disorder benefits under the plan; and

(III) for both the plan year upon which a cost exemption is sought and the year prior, the actual total costs of coverage with respect to mental health and substance use disorder benefits under the plan.

(iii) Confidentiality

A notification to the Secretary under clause (i) shall be confidential. The Secretary shall make available, upon request and on not more than an annual basis, an anonymous itemization of such notifications, that includes-

(I) a breakdown of States by the size and type of employers submitting such notification; and

(II) a summary of the data received under clause (ii).

(F) Audits by appropriate agencies

To determine compliance with this paragraph, the Secretary may audit the books and records of a group health plan or health insurance issuer relating to an exemption, including any actuarial reports prepared pursuant to subparagraph (C), during the 6 year period following the notification of such exemption under subparagraph (E). A State agency receiving a notification under subparagraph (E) may also conduct such an audit with respect to an exemption covered by such notification.

(d) Separate application to each option offered

In the case of a group health plan that offers a participant or beneficiary two or more benefit package options under the plan, the requirements of this section shall be applied separately with respect to each such option.

(e) Definitions

For purposes of this section-

(1) Aggregate lifetime limit

The term "aggregate lifetime limit" means, with respect to benefits under a group health plan or health insurance coverage, a dollar limitation on the total amount that may be paid with respect to such benefits under the plan or health insurance coverage with respect to an individual or other coverage unit.

(2) Annual limit

The term "annual limit" means, with respect to benefits under a group health plan or health insurance coverage, a dollar limitation on the total amount of benefits that may be paid with respect to such benefits in a 12-month period under the plan or health insurance coverage with respect to an individual or other coverage unit.

(3) Medical or surgical benefits

The term "medical or surgical benefits" means benefits with respect to medical or surgical services, as defined under the terms of the plan or coverage (as the case may be), but does not include mental health or substance use disorder benefits.

(4) Mental health benefits

The term "mental health benefits" means benefits with respect to services for mental health conditions, as defined under the terms of the plan and in accordance with applicable Federal and State law.

(5) Substance use disorder benefits

The term "substance use disorder benefits" means benefits with respect to services for substance use disorders, as defined under the terms of the plan and in accordance with applicable Federal and State law.

(July 1, 1944, ch. 373, title XXVII, §2726, formerly §2705, as added Pub. L. 104–204, title VII, §703(a), Sept. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 2947 ; amended Pub. L. 107–116, title VII, §701(b), Jan. 10, 2002, 115 Stat. 2228 ; Pub. L. 107–313, §2(b), Dec. 2, 2002, 116 Stat. 2457 ; Pub. L. 108–197, §2(b), Dec. 19, 2003, 117 Stat. 2898 ; Pub. L. 108–311, title III, §302(c), Oct. 4, 2004, 118 Stat. 1179 ; Pub. L. 109–151, §1(b), Dec. 30, 2005, 119 Stat. 2886 ; Pub. L. 109–432, div. A, title I, §115(c), Dec. 20, 2006, 120 Stat. 2941 ; Pub. L. 110–245, title IV, §401(c), June 17, 2008, 122 Stat. 1650 ; Pub. L. 110–343, div. C, title V, §512(b), (g)(2), Oct. 3, 2008, 122 Stat. 3885 , 3892; renumbered §2726 and amended Pub. L. 111–148, title I, §§1001(2), 1563(c)(4), formerly §1562(c)(4), title X, §10107(b)(1), Mar. 23, 2010, 124 Stat. 130 , 265, 911; Pub. L. 114–255, div. B, title XIII, §13001(a), (b), Dec. 13, 2016, 130 Stat. 1278 , 1280.)

Codification

Section was formerly classified to section 300gg–5 of this title prior to renumbering by Pub. L. 111–148.

Amendments

2016-Subsec. (a)(6), (7). Pub. L. 114–255 added pars. (6) and (7).

2010-Subsecs. (a), (b). Pub. L. 111–148, §1563(c)(4)(A), (B), formerly §1562(c)(4)(A), (B), as renumbered by Pub. L. 111–148, §10107(b)(1), substituted "or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage" for "(or health insurance coverage offered in connection with such a plan)" wherever appearing.

Subsec. (c)(1). Pub. L. 111–148, §1563(c)(4)(C)(i), formerly §1562(c)(4)(C)(i), as renumbered by Pub. L. 111–148, §10107(b)(1), substituted "and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage" for "(and group health insurance coverage offered in connection with a group health plan)".

Subsec. (c)(2)(A). Pub. L. 111–148, §1563(c)(4)(C)(ii), formerly §1562(c)(4)(C)(ii), as renumbered by Pub. L. 111–148, §10107(b)(1), substituted "or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage" for "(or health insurance coverage offered in connection with such a plan)".

2008-Pub. L. 110–343, §512(g)(2), amended section catchline generally. Prior to amendment, catchline read as follows: "Parity in application of certain limits to mental health benefits".

Subsec. (a)(1), (2). Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(7), substituted "mental health or substance use disorder benefits" for "mental health benefits" wherever appearing in pars. (1)(introductory provisions), (A), and (B)(ii) and (2)(introductory provisions), (A), and (B)(ii).

Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(6), substituted "mental health and substance use disorder benefits" for "mental health benefits" wherever appearing in pars. (1)(B)(i) and (C) and (2)(B)(i) and (C).

Subsec. (a)(3) to (5). Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(1), added pars. (3) to (5).

Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(7), substituted "mental health or substance use disorder benefits" for "mental health benefits".

Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(2), amended par. (2) generally. Prior to amendment, par. (2) read as follows: "in the case of a group health plan (or health insurance coverage offered in connection with such a plan) that provides mental health benefits, as affecting the terms and conditions (including cost sharing, limits on numbers of visits or days of coverage, and requirements relating to medical necessity) relating to the amount, duration, or scope of mental health benefits under the plan or coverage, except as specifically provided in subsection (a) of this section (in regard to parity in the imposition of aggregate lifetime limits and annual limits for mental health benefits)."

Subsec. (c)(1). Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(3)(A), inserted "(as defined in section 300gg–91(e)(4) of this title, except that for purposes of this paragraph such term shall include employers with 1 employee in the case of an employer residing in a State that permits small groups to include a single individual)" before period at end.

Subsec. (c)(2). Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(3)(B), added par. (2) and struck out former par. (2). Prior to amendment, text read as follows: "This section shall not apply with respect to a group health plan (or health insurance coverage offered in connection with a group health plan) if the application of this section to such plan (or to such coverage) results in an increase in the cost under the plan (or for such coverage) of at least 1 percent."

Subsec. (e)(3). Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(7), substituted "mental health or substance use disorder benefits" for "mental health benefits".

Subsec. (e)(4). Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(7), which directed substitution of "mental health or substance use disorder benefits" for "mental health benefits" wherever appearing in this section (other than in any provision amended by section 512(b)(6) of Pub. L. 110–343), was not executed to par. (4) as added by Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(4), to reflect the probable intent of Congress. See below.

Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(4), added par. (4) and struck out former par. (4). Prior to amendment, text read as follows: "The term 'mental health benefits' means benefits with respect to mental health services, as defined under the terms of the plan or coverage (as the case may be), but does not include benefits with respect to treatment of substance abuse or chemical dependency."

Subsec. (e)(5). Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(4), added par. (5).

Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 110–343, §512(b)(5), struck out subsec. (f). Text read as follows: "This section shall not apply to benefits for services furnished-

"(1) on or after January 1, 2008, and before June 17, 2008, and

"(2) after December 31, 2008.."

Pub. L. 110–245 substituted "services furnished-" for "services furnished after December 31, 2007" and added pars. (1) and (2).

2006-Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 109–432 substituted "2007" for "2006".

2005-Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 109–151 substituted "December 31, 2006" for "December 31, 2005".

2004-Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 108–311 substituted "after December 31, 2005" for "on or after December 31, 2004".

2003-Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 108–197 substituted "December 31, 2004" for "December 31, 2003".

2002-Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 107–313 substituted "December 31, 2003" for "December 31, 2002".

Pub. L. 107–116 substituted "December 31, 2002" for "September 30, 2001".

Effective Date of 2008 Amendment

Pub. L. 110–343, div. C, title V, §512(e), Oct. 3, 2008, 122 Stat. 3891 , as amended by Pub. L. 110–460, §1, Dec. 23, 2008, 122 Stat. 5123 , provided that:

"(1) In general.-The amendments made by this section [amending this section, section 9812 of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code, and section 1185a of Title 29, Labor] shall apply with respect to group health plans for plan years beginning after the date that is 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 3, 2008], regardless of whether regulations have been issued to carry out such amendments by such effective date, except that the amendments made by subsections (a)(5), (b)(5), and (c)(5) [amending this section, section 9812 of Title 26, and section 1185a of Title 29], relating to striking of certain sunset provisions, shall take effect on January 1, 2009.

"(2) Special rule for collective bargaining agreements.-In the case of a group health plan maintained pursuant to one or more collective bargaining agreements between employee representatives and one or more employers ratified before the date of the enactment of this Act [Oct. 3, 2008], the amendments made by this section shall not apply to plan years beginning before the later of-

"(A) the date on which the last of the collective bargaining agreements relating to the plan terminates (determined without regard to any extension thereof agreed to after the date of the enactment of this Act), or

"(B) January 1, 2010.

For purposes of subparagraph (A), any plan amendment made pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement relating to the plan which amends the plan solely to conform to any requirement added by this section shall not be treated as a termination of such collective bargaining agreement."

Effective Date

Pub. L. 104–204, title VII, §703(b), Sept. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 2950 , provided that: "The amendments made by this section [enacting this section] shall apply with respect to group health plans for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 1998."

Regulations

Pub. L. 110–343, div. C, title V, §512(d), Oct. 3, 2008, 122 Stat. 3891 , provided that: "Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 3, 2008], the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury shall issue regulations to carry out the amendments made by subsections (a), (b), and (c) [amending this section, section 9812 of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code, and section 1185a of Title 29, Labor], respectively."

Improving Compliance

Pub. L. 114–255, div. B, title XIII, §13001(d), Dec. 13, 2016, 130 Stat. 1283 , provided that:

"(1) In general.-In the case that the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Labor, or the Secretary of the Treasury determines that a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage has violated, at least 5 times, section 2726 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300gg–26), section 712 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 U.S.C. 1185a), or section 9812 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 [26 U.S.C. 9812], respectively, the appropriate Secretary shall audit plan documents for such health plan or issuer in the plan year following the Secretary's determination in order to help improve compliance with such section.

"(2) Rule of construction.-Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the authority, as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act [Dec. 13, 2016], of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Labor, or the Secretary of the Treasury to audit documents of health plans or health insurance issuers."

Clarification of Existing Parity Rules

Pub. L. 114–255, div. B, title XIII, §13007, Dec. 13, 2016, 130 Stat. 1287 , provided that: "If a group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage provides coverage for eating disorder benefits, including residential treatment, such group health plan or health insurance issuer shall provide such benefits consistent with the requirements of section 2726 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300gg–26), section 712 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 U.S.C. 1185a), and section 9812 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 [26 U.S.C. 9812]."

Assuring Coordination

Pub. L. 110–343, div. C, title V, §512(f), Oct. 3, 2008, 122 Stat. 3892 , provided that: "The Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of the Treasury may ensure, through the execution or revision of an interagency memorandum of understanding among such Secretaries, that-

"(1) regulations, rulings, and interpretations issued by such Secretaries relating to the same matter over which two or more such Secretaries have responsibility under this section [amending this section, section 9812 of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code, and section 1185a of Title 29, Labor, and enacting provisions set out as notes under this section] (and the amendments made by this section) are administered so as to have the same effect at all times; and

"(2) coordination of policies relating to enforcing the same requirements through such Secretaries in order to have a coordinated enforcement strategy that avoids duplication of enforcement efforts and assigns priorities in enforcement."

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force

Memorandum of President of the United States, Mar. 29, 2016, 81 F.R. 19015, provided:

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

My Administration has made behavioral health a priority and taken a number of steps to improve the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. These actions are especially important in light of the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic as well as the suicide and substance use-related fatalities that have reversed increases in longevity in certain populations. One important response has been the expansion and implementation of mental health and substance use disorder parity protections to ensure that coverage for these benefits is comparable to coverage for medical and surgical care. The Affordable Care Act builds on the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to expand mental health and substance use disorder benefits and Federal parity protections for more than 60 million Americans. To realize the promise of coverage expansion and parity protections in helping individuals with mental health and substance use disorders, executive departments and agencies need to work together to ensure that Americans are benefiting from the Federal parity protections the law intends. To that end, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1. Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force. There is established an interagency Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force (Task Force), which will identify and promote best practices for executive departments and agencies (agencies), as well as State agencies, to better ensure compliance with and implementation of requirements related to mental health and substance use disorder parity, and determine areas that would benefit from further guidance. The Director of the Domestic Policy Council shall serve as Chair of the Task Force.

(a) Membership of the Task Force. In addition to the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, the Task Force shall consist of the heads of the following agencies and offices, or their designees:

(i) the Department of the Treasury;

(ii) the Department of Defense;

(iii) the Department of Justice;

(iv) the Department of Labor;

(v) the Department of Health and Human Services;

(vi) the Department of Veterans Affairs;

(vii) the Office of Personnel Management;

(viii) the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and

(ix) such other agencies or offices as the President may designate.

At the request of the Chair, the Task Force may establish subgroups consisting exclusively of Task Force members or their designees under this section, as appropriate.

(b) Administration of the Task Force. The Department of Health and Human Services shall provide funding and administrative support for the Task Force to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations.

Sec. 2. Mission and Functions of the Task Force. The Task Force shall coordinate across agencies to:

(a) identify and promote best practices for compliance and implementation;

(b) identify and address gaps in guidance, particularly with regard to substance use disorder parity; and

(c) implement actions during its tenure and at its conclusion to advance parity in mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

Sec. 3. Outreach. Consistent with the objectives set out in section 2 of this memorandum, the Task Force, in accordance with applicable law, shall conduct outreach to patients, consumer advocates, health care providers, specialists in mental health care and substance use disorder treatment, employers, insurers, State regulators, and other stakeholders as the Task Force deems appropriate.

Sec. 4. Transparency and Reports. The Task Force shall present to the President a report before October 31, 2016, on its findings and recommendations, which shall be made public.

Sec. 5. General Provisions. (a) The heads of agencies shall assist and provide information to the Task Force, consistent with applicable law, as may be necessary to carry out the functions of the Task Force.

(b) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(d) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(e) The Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

Barack Obama.