24 Jan: Vitale-Buono Bill To Require Insurance Parity For Treatment Of Mental Health, Substance Abuse Approved By Committee

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Barbara Buono which would require health insurers in New Jersey to cover treatment for alcoholism and substance abuse disorders under the same terms and conditions used for other diseases and illnesses was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today by a vote of 6-0, with four abstentions.

“Right now in the Garden State, your health insurance safety net isn’t as complete as you’d like to think,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health Committee. “While medical professionals universally consider mental disorders, alcoholism and substance abuse as illnesses, insurers seem to classify these diseases in another realm entirely, and deny coverage to costly, yet effective treatment. There needs to be a measure of parity and equity in how insurers treat medically-identified diseases, to give all New Jersey health consumers access to the treatment they need.”

“Under current insurance regulations, apparently all diseases aren’t created equal,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Medically necessary treatment for certain mental health disorders and substance abuse are routinely denied because they aren’t classified under the same regulatory definitions as other diseases. We need to step in, and ensure that all New Jerseyans can have the treatment they need, whatever the disease.”