FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Perspectives on health policy affecting America's hospitals and the patients we serve.

FAH Policy Blog Team

FAH Urges a Federal Appeals Court to Rehear Case on Behavioral Health Coverage

FAH joined AHA and multiple national behavioral health associations in filing an amicus brief urging the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to grant a full re-hearing (en banc review) of a case, Wit v. United Behavioral Health (UBH), regarding coverage of behavioral health treatment and substance use disorders. Previously, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit overturned a landmark ruling by a federal district court which found that UBH, a health insurance company for behavioral health services, routinely denied patients access to covered outpatient, intensive outpatient, and residential mental health and substance use disorder treatment based on the application of guidelines that were inconsistent with generally accepted standards of care.  The amicus brief asserts that the Appeals Court panel’s “brief Memorandum ruling disregarded the district court’s findings of fact concerning UBH’s conduct and deviated from established standards of appellate review and ERISA principles” and more importantly, “slammed shut the door to patient access to safe and effective [care], and treatment for behavioral health and substance use disorders.” On this basis, the amicus brief urges that the “importance of such public health issues, especially as more and more Americans struggle with mental illness, is reason alone to grant en banc review.”  You can read the entire amicus brief here.