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(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel on Monday advanced a measure sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver to help boost access to mental health treatment by increasing insurance coverage.
The measure was approved by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee during a special hearing as part of the comprehensive Assembly Democratic anti-gun violence initiative, which is comprised of more than two dozen bills.
"In order to ensure that people with mental illnesses have access to the treatment they need, mental health services must not be treated as the illegitimate step child of the health insurance world," said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). "Mental health treatment is crucial to reducing suicide rates, violence and incarceration. This is a crucial component of any strategy to reduce gun violence. In the long run, the cost of providing mental health treatment is far less expensive than the socio-economic fall out of mental illness. It's also the far more humane approach."
The Speaker's legislation (AR-144) urges Governor Christie to take a leadership role in the public mental health agenda and not apply for an annual exemption from the requirements of the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.
NJ Assembly Majority Office
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"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile- The Bergen Record
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