PolitickerNJ Wire Feed

By Jennifer Sciortino | February 21st, 2013 - 4:39pm
| More

Assembly Democrats News Release

Assembly Approves Oliver & Wagner Measure to Ensure Better Coverage for Mental Health Treatment

Measure Urges Christie to Forego Exemptions that Allow State to Offer Less Coverage for Mental Health Treatment Than Other Illnesses

(TRENTON) - The full Assembly on Thursday approved a measure sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver and Assemblywoman Connie Wagner to help boost access to mental health treatment by increasing insurance coverage.

The measure (AR-144), approved by a vote of 48-28-1, is part of the comprehensive Assembly Democratic anti-gun violence initiative, which is comprised of roughly 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 legislation 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.

"Despite the availability of effective mental health treatments, the rates for both adults and children that actually receive the help they need is alarmingly low," said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Without the proper treatment, certain mental illnesses can increase the likelihood of violence or suicide. Access to mental health treatment is crucial for any effective anti-gun violence initiative."

The federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires group health plans and health insurance issuers to ensure that the financial requirements, such as co-pays and deductibles, and treatment limitations, such as visit limitations, applicable to mental health or substance abuse disorder benefits are no more restrictive than the predominant requirements or limitations applied to substantially all medical and surgical benefits.

Under current federal law, sponsors or administrators of self-funded nonfederal governmental group health plans may apply for plan exemptions from parity in the application of certain treatment limitations to mental health benefits under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

The Executive Branch has been applying annually for an exemption from mental health parity since the 1980's and 1990's and from mental health and substance abuse parity since 2008 through plan design and the State Health Benefits Commission action, and in the current state fiscal year is exempt from mental health and substance abuse parity as it applies to visit limits which may reduce the efficacy of treatment.

The sponsors noted that approximately 50 percent of mental disorders begin before the age of 14; one in five of the world's children and adolescents are estimated to have mental disorders or problems; and one in four adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year. However, the lawmakers underscored that fewer than one-third of adults and one-half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder receive mental health services in a given year despite the availability of effective treatments.

Approximately one in four state prisoners, one in five local jail prisoners, and seven out of ten youths in the juvenile justice system have a recent history of a mental health disorder, while over 50 percent of students age 14 and older with a mental disorder drop out of high school, the highest drop out rate of any disability group.

War and major disaster also have a large impact on mental health and psychosocial well-being such that rates of mental disorder tend to double after emergencies and lead to increased risk factors for communicable and non-communicable diseases, intentional and unintentional injury, and suicide.

Mental disorders are one of the most prominent and treatable causes of suicide. In the United States, the annual, indirect economic cost of mental illness is estimated to be $79 billion, most of which ($63 billion) reflects the loss of productivity, but the financial resources needed to treat mental disorders range between $2 to $4 per person, per year.

A duly authenticated, signed copy of the measure will now be transmitted to Governor Christie.

On the Net:
The Assembly Democratic Office Web site
NJ Assembly Dems on YouTube
NJ Assembly Dems on Vimeo
NJ Assembly Dems on Facebook
NJ Assembly Dems on Twitter
NJ Assembly Dems e-mail alerts

Contact Info: 

Jennifer Sciortino
NJ Assembly Majority Office
(P) 609-847-3500

The Back Room

Christie invades South Carolina

On his first visit to South Carolina as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Gov. Chris Christie stayed in "moderate Charleston, in contrast to other potential GOP candidates who made early visits to conservatives elsewhere," according to an ABC News report.

Read More >

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 17th

U.S. Senate race: Bell defends gold standard stance MONTCLAIR - On the same day he was politically brickbatted by the chief adviser to the last Republican challenger to incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), GOP Senate candidate Jeff Bell stood by a key plank of policy platform: monetary reform...

Op-Ed

Legislation needed for publicly financed gubernatorial elections

By JEFF BRINDLE It is critical that the Legislature soon enact a pending bill that would ensure the state’s Gubernatorial Public Financing Program is available in the event of a special election for governor.  Not only is there no current legal... Read More >

Contributors

(9-17-14) Viral Video Prompts Questionable NJ Municipal Ordinance -  Socrates said, “While I might disagree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say... more »
The Correct Foreign Policy – Neither Fortress America Nor Pax Americana      Last week marked the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War 2.  It started with the... more »
(Asbury Park, NJ) -- There's a word for someone who says one thing and does another: hypocrite.  There's no shortage of 'em in Trenton -- from ... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

“Clearly there’s some resemblance with Theodore Roosevelt. That direct confrontational style of leadership.” - historian Doris Hearns Goodwin, referring to Gov. Chris Christie.

- The Times of Trenton

Poll

Who would make the best running mate for Chris Christie if he lands the GOP nomination for president?:

Blogroll

Visit the PolitickerNJ.com/resources page for links to the best collection of information on New Jersey state government.

 

  • Polls
  • The best blogs
  • Columnists
  • State election results
  • Assembly election results
  • Local party websites
  • And more.

PolitickerNJ.com/resources