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Mental health providers worry over unintended consequences of No Surprises Act

Mental health providers are seeking an exemption from the “good faith” estimates for routine mental and behavioral health services. (Photo: Shutterstock) Groups representing a range of mental health therapists say a new law that protects people from surprise medical bills puts providers in an ethical bind and could discourage some patients from care.

The therapists take no issue with the main aim of the legislation, which is to prevent patients from being blindsided by bills, usually for treatment received from out-of-network medical providers who work at in-network facilities. Instead, they are concerned about another part of the law — a price transparency provision — that requires most licensed medical practitioners to give patients detailed upfront cost estimates, including a diagnosis, and information about the length and costs involved in a typical course of treatment. That’s unfitting for mental health care, they say, because diagnoses can take time and sometimes change over the course of treatment. […]

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