Bill would address shortcomings in mental healthcare


State Rep. Cyndi Stevenson has filed a bill that aims to expand mental healthcare by identifying gaps in coverage.

“The purpose of this bill is to help people get the right services, at the right place, at the right time,” said Stevenson. “Too often we hear complaints and it is years too late. The consequences can be catastrophic. This bill is an attempt to remedy that.”

House Bill 701 establishes a system with the Department of Financial Services and the Agency for Health Care Administration to track and monitor complaints by insurance customers of any gaps and inadequacies in coverage of and access to behavioral health care services. This information will be reported to the Division of Consumer Services.

The bill would also require that insurance companies and health maintenance organizations provide a written notice to their customers of state and federal requirements for coverage of behavioral health care access.

A toll free number would be provided for customers to report complaints regarding their coverage, including challenges of locating and accessing behavioral health care services, the expense of receiving such services and any other complaints regarding the adequacy of services.

The bill would also require that a joint report from the Department of Financial Services and the Agency of Health Care Administration be submitted to the governor, president of the Senate and speaker of the House. This report would contain the data involving complaints from health insurance customers, the cause of such complaints and whether the complaints were resolved with in a timely manner.

“In recent years, the importance of acknowledging, understanding and remedying mental health issues has become more and more evident,” said Stevenson. “This bill gives everyone who is suffering from mental health issues a voice to make sure that they are satisfied with their health care coverage.”