Updated: May 10, 2019 06:27 PM
Created: May 10, 2019 12:00 AM
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said his consumer complaints division has seen an influx of complaints this week from patients who claim they were denied insurance coverage for mental health-related disorders.
The uptick coincides with a 5 INVESTIGATES story that highlighted patients' experiences on Sunday. A review of medical, state and court records found health insurance companies have repeatedly denied coverage for treatment of mental illnesses, such as eating disorders and drug addiction.
In an interview, Ellison said he wants "decisive action" to follow after a thorough investigation by his office.
"This is a problem that I believe we should have fixed, but clearly this is something that needs enforcement," Ellison said.
While not going into specifics, Ellison did say he is considering bringing back an external appeals panel that would review denied claims.
The panel was established in 2002, after former Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch negotiated a landmark settlement that required multiple insurance companies to send denied claims to the panel for review.
Hatch said the denials were overwhelmingly overturned by the panel. Ellison said he has been in touch with Hatch.
"I can assure you it is something we are contemplating," Ellison said.
In a statement earlier this week, Ellison encouraged patients and doctors to reach out to his office with complaints.
"Do not be nervous or afraid to call and get the help that you need," he said.
How to contact the AG's Office
The following are the numbers for the Minnesota Attorney General's consumer complaints division:
Metro - 651-296-3353
Greater Minnesota - 1-800-657-3787
Minnesota Relay (for hearing impaired) - 1-800-627-3529
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