New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation today which he says will enhance the 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 (A2031/S1339) 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. The federal law enacted in 2008 requires 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. 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,” Governor Murphy said.
“Providing access to health care remains a priority for my administration and we will continue to work to remove obstacles that hinder people’s abilities to receive the care they need.
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 the 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 Murphy Administration recognizes that robust consumer outreach and engagement is a critical component of the department’s work and that strengthening a direct line of communication between regulators and those impacted, consumers, families, providers and advocates, is critical to best understand and identify issues related to parity. Commissioner Caride, in recognition of this is announcing a Parity Listening Tour and looks forward to working with mental health advocates and other stakeholders.
The law is sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin, (D-Middlesex), Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, (D-Bergen), Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Burlington and Camden), Assemblyman Joe Danielson (D-Middlesex and Somerset), Assemblywoman Joann Downey, (D-Monmouth), Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union), Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey (D-Essex-Morris), Senate Republican Leader Thomas H. Kean Jr. (R-Morris, Somerset and Union) and Senator Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex).
It takes effect on the 60thday after enactment.
The department encourages the public to communicate concerns and complaints regarding parity by calling the Department of Banking and Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-446-7467 (8:30 am to 5:00 pm EST Monday through Friday), or by going to the department website and clicking on Consumer Assistance – Inquiries/Complaints, at https://www.state.nj.us/dobi/index.html.