David Thornton Discusses Wit v. United Behavioral Health Appeals

August 23, 2022
Behavioral Health Business

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney David Thornton discussed the appeals request in Wit v. United Behavioral Health, a case that could set a precedent for the behavioral health industry and access to mental health and addiction treatment. In February 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that United Behavioral Health violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by incorrectly denying behavioral health claims. The company appealed to the 9th Circuit, and in March 2022 a three-judge panel reversed the decision. The plaintiffs are now appealing that decision, requesting that the full panel of judges review the case.

While David said the initial 9th Circuit decision is typical of ERISA cases, he said “In one respect, the [appeals court] said, ‘This is the standard of review: Is this arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion?'” He added that the circuit court effectively came to the answer that “the district court misapplied that standard.”

However, David did acknowledge that this case is “ripe” to be heard given the implications within the behavioral health industry. “I think that this case is ripe for the full 9th Circuit to have another set of eyes on it,” David said. “I find it very unusual not to go into the facts.”

The full article, “How Wit v. United Behavioral Health Could Impact the Future of Behavioral Health Parity,” was published by Behavioral Health Business on August 19 and is available online.