ERIC Urges Congress to Act Now to Improve Mental and Behavioral Health Care for Employees

New report from ERIC provides lawmakers a detailed roadmap to improve the accessibility and affordability of mental health care for Americans

Washington, DC – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) has published specific public policy recommendations for Congress to implement to help America’s employers provide increased access to better mental and behavioral health care for their employees and families. The recommendations are part of an innovative new report, Prioritizing Employee Mental Health: Solutions for Congress, released today.

ERIC’s large employer member companies, seeing a rise in mental health and substance use disorder cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, worked quickly to expand access to mental and behavioral health services for employees. But outdated laws, rules, and public policies created significant challenges in offering more robust and tailored benefits.

“Providing affordable and accessible mental health care for employees and their families should be a top priority for Congress—especially in the wake of the pandemic,” said Annette Guarisco Fildes, President and CEO at ERIC. “Rather than focus on mental health policies that do little for patients, our recommendations for federal lawmakers detail real solutions that would deliver critical relief for those who need it most.”

Key recommendations from ERIC’s new report would:

  • Allow mental health providers to practice across state lines to improve access to care

  • Expand telehealth benefits for all employees to improve access to providers

  • Incentivize more practitioners to enter the mental health field by increasing education funding and tuition reimbursement

  • Require provider transparency around the ability to accept new patients, reducing patient uncertainty and frustration

  • Integrate multiple health care disciplines through collaboration to provide patients with higher quality care

  • Ensure patients and plan sponsors have access to meaningful provider quality and safety information

  • Modernize health care account rules to increase flexibility for employees and improve access to mental and behavioral health

  • Reduce regulatory barriers to encourage employer innovation

  • Apply lessons learned from COVID-19 to advance health equity and better prepare for the future

  • Encourage the transition to value-based payments to better manage the costs of mental and behavioral health

“ERIC’s recommendations for expanding access to mental health care come at a pivotal moment in America’s evolving health care landscape,” said Jacqueline Heitner, Director of Global Health Benefits Design and Strategy at IBM. “We hope these practical, common sense ideas accelerate Congressional action to improve and expand access to mental health care and benefits that so many Americans have need for in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and many other stressors.”

“ERIC believes that if Congress acts on the policies laid out in our new report, employers will be able to meaningfully improve the lives of employees and their families by increasing their access to high-quality, affordable mental and behavioral health care,” concluded Guarisco Fildes.

To access ERIC’s full report, click here.

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All media inquiries to The ERISA Industry Committee should be directed to:

Kelly Broadway, 202.627.1918, kbroadway@eric.org

About The ERISA Industry Committee
ERIC is a national advocacy organization that exclusively represents large employers that provide health, retirement, paid leave, and other benefits to their nationwide workforces. With member companies that are leaders in every sector of the economy, ERIC advocates on the federal, state, and local levels for policies that promote flexibility and uniformity in the administration of their employee benefit plans.