We continue to see an increase in fiduciary litigation involving employer-sponsored group health plans, particularly litigation involving mental health.  A recent New York Federal District Court case, Collins et al. v. Anthem, Inc. & Anthem UM Services, Inc., Case No. 1:20-cv-001969, is one example that may have wide-ranging impact. This case caught our attention because of its potential impact on plan design and plan administration of its mental health and substance use disorder (collectively “behavioral health”) benefits.

Recently enacted federal law expanding criminal liability for kickbacks related to all payors, and increased government enforcement activity in behavioral health (see press release), has heightened the importance of clinical due diligence for private equity investors targeting deals and acquisitions in the emerging behavioral health space.  PE firms continue to target behavioral health opportunities as federal and commercial insurance coverage expands for mental health, including substance abuse treatment and telehealth services.  Such commercial coverage will only become more commonplace after a federal court this month found United Behavioral Health improperly denied benefits for treatment of mental health and substance use disorders to plan participants because United’s guidelines did not comply with the terms of its own insurance plans and state law.[1]  PE firms entering the behavioral health market, though, particularly opportunities related to substance abuse treatment and laboratory services, should carefully review a company’s compliance with the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018 (“EKRA”).