Pennsylvania House passes mental health parity proposal

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The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill Oct. 6 that would require financial requirements and limitations on mental health benefits be no more restrictive than those placed on other health benefits.

Robert F. Matzie

Robert F. Matzie

State Rep. Robert F. Matzie (D-Allegheny/Beaver) proposed H.B. 1593,  the Health Insurance Coverage Parity and Non-Discrimination Act, so Pennsylvania’s insurance laws would be in line with new federal requirements for mental health parity.

The bill, which passed in a 201-0 vote, moves to the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

“This bill is important because it would prevent discrimination in Pennsylvania’s insurance industry and ensure that the state Insurance Department would continue to regulate the industry,” Matzie said in a statement. “I am pleased that my colleagues in the House recognize the importance of this measure and I hope the Senate will work swiftly to pass it as well.”

The bill would put Pennsylvania law on par with the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which mandates that financial requirements and treatment limitations applicable to mental health or substance use disorder benefits be no more restrictive than the predominant financial requirements or treatment limitations applied to substantially all medical and surgical benefits covered by the plan.

The bill also mirrors federal requirements under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination in premiums or contribution amounts on the basis of genetic information of a covered individual or family member, and prohibits an insurer from requesting or requiring genetic testing from an individual trying to obtain coverage.

The bill also includes provisions under the so-called Michelle’s Law, which protects a dependent child in college who must take a leave of absence for medically necessary reasons and continues coverage to one year after the leave of absence begins or the date coverage would otherwise have terminated.

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