Assembly Advances Bill To Strengthen Mental Health Coverage Rules
On Monday, the California Legislature approved a bill (SB 1046) that would increase penalties for insurers that do not provide adequate coverage for mental health care, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The Assembly voted 70 to 0 to approve the bill, which now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown (D).
Under current state and federal regulations, insurers must cover treatments for serious mental illnesses and are prohibited from:
- Imposing separate limits on mental health benefits; and
- Including higher co-payments or out-of-pocket costs for mental health treatments.
The regulations cover treatments for conditions such as:
- Conditions in children, such as autism;
- Eating disorders;
- Major depression; and
Details of Bill
SB 1046 would extend to the state Department of Insurance -- which regulates small self-employed and individual health plans -- the authority to issue per-day, per-patient fines for violating the mental health coverage requirements.
The California Department of Managed Health Care, which supervises major group health plans, already has such authority.
State Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), the bill's author, said it "puts health insurers on the alert that they must live up to the law or face fines."
However, a health insurance trade group raised concerns about what would constitute a violation of the rules, the AP/Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.