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Murphy signs mental health parity legislation

NJBIZ - 4/18/2019

Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday signed legislation that will enhance enforcement of mental health parity laws by improving transparency and accountability related to the insurance coverage of mental health and substance use disorder treatment services for New Jersey residents.
The law requires health insurers to provide coverage for mental health conditions and substance use disorders under the same terms and conditions as provided for any other sickness and to meet the requirements of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act afederal law enacted in 2008 requiring equal coverage for mental and physical health care services.
“No one should have to forego treatment or take on a monumental expense to receive care because of inequities in coverage. We must do everything we can to ensure that individuals who need treatment are able to get it," Murphy said at theCapital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. "This new law enhances enforcement and oversight of mental health parity laws to ensure that mental health and substance use disorders are treated on par with physical health conditions."
Under the new law, insurance carriers will have to submit an annual report to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance that demonstrates compliance with mental health parity laws. The law also provides a number of additional transparency provisions, including the development of a report by the department, to be provided to the Legislature and posted publicly, detailing oversight of the bill’s provisions.
The law applies to health service corporations, commercial insurers, health maintenance organizations, health benefits plans issued pursuant to the New Jersey Individual Health Coverage and Small Employer Health Benefits Programs, the State Health Benefits Program, and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program.
"We've been working hard to end the stigma that too often prevents people from seeking the mental health services they require," said Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, R-21st District. "Unfortunately, many who pursue treatment are only dissuaded by insurance limitations that put the cost of care out of reach. This legislation will level the playing field by ensuring that critical behavioral health care services are put on the same footing as treatments for physical ailments that are covered by insurance plans."
The law takes effect on the 60th day after enactment.

CREDIT: Linda Lindner