With the U.S. Department of Labor's top benefits official telling attorneys at a conference to prepare for new guidance on mental health parity, benefits lawyers have a long wish list of items they hope the department could address. …
Updated Self-Compliance Tool
Another crucial wish-list item for benefits attorneys when it comes to more guidance is an update to EBSA's so-called self-compliance tool, which hasn't been updated since 2020 — before the new authority on parity enforcement was extended by Congress to the DOL.
On the agency's website, EBSA warns plans that while it "suggests using the tool as a best practice," it didn't reflect that plans and issuers subject to federal parity laws now have to perform and document comparative analysis of nonquantitative treatment limits.
The tool is essentially a lengthy guidance document, loosely organized as a question-and-answer narrative, that provides examples of how the law applies in given situations. The tool also provides specific examples of nonquantitative treatment limits that would show regulators a plan is or isn't complying with parity.
David Shillcutt, senior counsel at Epstein Becker Green, said he's watching closely for an update to the compliance tool, noting the law requires a refresh every two years.
Shillcutt said the tool "has a lot more detail and examples than you would expect to see in the final rules," referring to rules meant to implement 2020 changes to the parity law, rules that haven't yet been proposed.