Mental Health Matters Act

The Mental Health Matters Act would ban unfair arbitration clauses, class action waivers, discretionary clauses, and representation waivers in ERISA-governed plans. The Mental Health Matters Act would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to make mandatory arbitration clauses unenforceable. This would ban pre-dispute arbitration as a condition of joining the plan. A big win for consumers.

Beneficiaries can still agree to arbitration after a dispute arises. To make sure it is fair, the following conditions apply: no coercion; written confirmation of right to refuse to agree without retaliation; and a 45-day waiting period to agree to arbitration. Seems reasonable.

The American Hospital Association supports the bill because unfair forced arbitration agreements limit access to a “fair standard of review by the courts.”

Consumer Reports notes that arbitration clauses place consumers at an unfair disadvantage. They support the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act which would ban mandatory arbitration in an employment, consumer, anti-trust or civil rights dispute.

“H.R. 7780 will strengthen the provision of affordable mental and other health care … . And it will help prevent Americans from being improperly denied mental health and substance use benefits by ensuring a fair standard of review by the courts and banning so-called forced arbitration agreements. The Administration urges the House to pass the Mental Health Matters Act of 2022.”

Biden already signed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act. That act enables victims of sexual assault to file in court instead of being forced to participate in arbitration. The tide may be turning against unfair arbitration. Great news for consumers and nursing home residents.