HARRISBURG—The House has passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia) to require insurance companies show the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance that they are offering mental health coverage with the same parity as they do coverage for physical illness.
The federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Actthat became law requires large group mental health insurance policies to provide mental health/substance use disorder benefits at parity with medical and surgical benefits.
“While the federal law was a step in the right direction, enforcement has not always resulted in true parity and equivalence of care,” Murt said.
House Bill 1696
would require insurers to file an annual report with the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance detailing how they offer mental health coverage at the same level as medical and surgical benefits.
“Sadly, many people who need mental health care are often incapable of complaining because they are actively in crisis,” Murt said. “Filing a complaint or fighting through due process with the insurance company in question is not always realistic.”
Murt’s bill would require insurance carriers in the Commonwealth that cover behavioral health submit information each year to the Department of Insurance to help the department ascertain if the insurance carrier is being compliant with the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
The bill will not require insurance companies to cover any condition or illness that they do not already cover. There is no mandate nor extension of status quo coverage.
The bill now moves to the Senate.
Representative Thomas P. Murt, Ed.D.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster