Coughlin, Vainieri Huttle & Lampitt Bill to Expand Health Coverage for Behavioral Health Care, Enhance Enforcement and Oversight of Mental Health Parity Signed into Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Joe Danielsen, Joann Downey, Annette Quijano and Mila Jasey to expand health insurance coverage for behavioral health care services and enhance enforcement and oversight of mental health parity was signed into law today by Governor Phil Murphy.

The bill (A-2031) would require plans to provide coverage for medically necessary behavioral health care services and to meet the requirements of a 2008 federal law, which prevents certain health insurers that provide mental or substance use disorder benefits from imposing less favorable benefit limitations on those benefits than on medical or surgical benefits, commonly referred to as mental health parity.

“Ensuring coverage for mental health services will have a meaningful impact on thousands of lives across our state,” said Assembly Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “On average, one in five Americans experience mental health issues. Access to health care is a basic human right and everyone deserves the necessary treatment and coverage as it relates to one’s mental health.”

The bill would expand health coverage to include “behavioral health care services,” which is defined in the legislation as procedures or services rendered by a health care provider or health care facility for the treatment of mental illness, emotional disorders, or drug or alcohol abuse, and autism.

“This ensures that people who are suffering from mental illness or addiction will have access to the services essential to their recovery,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Individuals who are struggling with a mental illness or addiction should not have to jump through hoops to get help.”