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A Win in the Battle for True Mental Health Parity

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Riggs Medical Director/CEO Eric M. Plakun, MD, comments on the recent verdict in the Wit versus United Behavioral Health (UBH)/Optum class action lawsuit:

“Yesterday, the verdict was released in a landmark class-action lawsuit in federal district court–Wit versus United Behavioral Health (UBH)/Optum, the nation’s largest managed behavioral health organization. Chief Magistrate Joseph C. Spero found that UBH ‘illegally denied mental health and substance use coverage based on flawed medical necessity criteria.’

The importance of this verdict in the battle for true mental health parity cannot be overstated–it is a meaningful victory for the millions of Americans struggling with mental illness in this country, and for those who, like Riggs, provide medically necessary intermediate levels of care between acute inpatient and outpatient treatments.

I am pleased to have served as one of the plaintiffs’ experts on outpatient, intensive outpatient and residential care in this case and pleased with the outcome. Hopefully, it is only the beginning of a groundswell that advances the promise of mental health parity and eases the burden of access to care faced by so many individuals and families in our country today.”

You can read more about the decision in the March 5, 2019 New York Times piece, “Mental Health Treatment Denied to Customers by Giant Insurer’s Policies, Judge Rules,” and in the CNN piece, "In scathing ruling, judge rips insurer for putting 'bottom line' over patients' health."

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