Williams Testifies on Bill to Increase Mental Health Coverage
January 22, 2020
Today, state Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) provided sponsor testimony on Senate Bill 241 before the Ohio Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions. The bill aims to improve access to mental health services in Ohio.
“There is a high demand for mental health treatment and services in Ohio,” said Williams. “However, insurance companies don’t always cover mental and behavioral health in the same way they cover physical health. It is disheartening to hear that those who seek assistance cannot receive proper care due to the cost of treatments and the lack of coverage.”
Under the U.S. Mental Health Parity Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), insurers are prohibited from imposing a cost-sharing requirement such as co-payment or deductible for mental health services that is separate from the cost-sharing requirement for basic health services.
Under Ohio current law, insurers can use carve outs to subcontract benefits for mental health services to other insurers. This practice results in two sets of deductibles and thus increases health care costs. SB 241 would update Ohio’s mental health parity laws and increase access to treatment by ensuring patients have just one deductible.
Additionally, the bill requires that if a health care provider is considered in-network for basic health services, then that provider shall also be considered in-network for mental health services. According to the Center for Community Solutions, Ohio patients in need of behavioral health services are up to five times more likely to have to go out of network for treatment than patients in need of medical or surgical care.