The attorneys general of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Illinois are asking a federal appellate court to overturn UnitedHealth's win in a mental health coverage case.
On March 22, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a California federal judge's November 2020 order for United Behavioral Health to reprocess 67,000 previously denied mental health and substance abuse claims. It also overturned the judge's underlying March 2019 ruling in the class-action lawsuit that the claims were improperly denied.
The appellate judges disagreed with the lower court judge that the payer abused its discretion in interpreting the health benefit plan's language.
"UBH’s interpretation — that the plans do not require consistency with the (generally accepted standard of care) — was not unreasonable," the court majority said in its ruling.
The attorneys general said in a May 16 news release that the appellate court's decision sets a "dangerous precedent for how treatment can be covered nationwide."
"Mental health parity laws mean nothing if insurers can deny substance use disorder claims for baseless and arbitrary reasons," Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in the news release.