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Zuckerman Spaeder LLP Attorneys Continue Fight for Mental Health Parity with Class Action Lawsuit

July 8, 2014

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP partners D. Brian Hufford and Jason S. Cowart have filed a class action lawsuit against Illinois-based Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)—an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and the largest customer-owned health insurance company in the United States. Mr. Hufford and Mr. Cowart, who are joined in the lawsuit by Psych-Appeal and others, have long been challenging health insurance industry practices and, in particular, efforts to deny coverage for individuals living with mental illness.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleges that HCSC improperly denies Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for insured individuals diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, a severe mental illness that does not always respond to first-line treatments. TMS is an FDA-approved, scientifically validated treatment that is well recognized by the mental health community. Despite this, HCSC excludes TMS in violation of plan terms and the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), according to the lawsuit.

The class action complaint also alleges that HCSC violates the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 by requiring preauthorization for all outpatient mental health services without requiring the same for all outpatient medical/surgical services.

Mr. Hufford and Mr. Cowart recently co-authored a National Law Journal article on the long struggle for mental health parity. A copy of that article is available here.

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