|Posted:||February 22, 2019 08:40 AM|
|From:||Representative Thomas P. Murt and Rep. Michael H. Schlossberg|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Parity Coverage for Mental Health (Prior HB 440)|
|“Never give up on someone with a mental illness. When “I” is replaced by “We,” illness becomes wellness.”
. . . . Shannon L. Alder
In the near future, Representative Michael Schlossberg and I, plan to reintroduce legislation that strengthens the ability of the Department of Insurance to enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008 (“Parity”). Parity was passed by Congress, and signed into law by President George W. Bush. It afforded citizens groundbreaking new rights in access to behavioral health treatment by requiring insurers to make their behavioral health benefit no more restrictive than their physical health benefit. At its core was a basic premise: citizens should be able to access mental health and substance use treatment as easily as they can access physical healthcare.
Uncertainty as to what Parity implementation and enforcement should look like at the state level hinders efforts to make sure that people can access behavioral health treatment as easily as their physical care.
A lack of education and awareness of Parity creates barriers to enforcement of the law. The Insurance Department is unable to accurately inform the General Assembly as to how many Pennsylvanians are experiencing barriers to care through their insurance company. Less than 5 percent of Americans are aware they have rights and are entitled to care under the law, and as a result, many consumers aren’t appealing denied claims or request for services.
Increasing compliance with this federal law at the state level will reduce reliance on taxpayer-subsidized public insurance programs, as private insurance begins to provide more of the services that they are already required to cover. This includes treatment options to address the growing national opioid epidemic that has affected families across Pennsylvania.
We urge you to consider joining us in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation, which seeks to protect the rights of Pennsylvanians to access vital mental health and substance use services through their insurance company.
Previous Cosponsors: V. BROWN, D. COSTA, DRISCOLL, HARPER, KINSEY, McNEILL, MILLARD, D. MILLER, READSHAW, SCHLOSSBERG, SCHWEYER, WATSON, DAVIDSON, STAATS, SOLOMON, BRIGGS and SIMS
Introduced as HB836