AG Backs Mental Illness Coverage

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) says it expects health plans to comply with an attorney general's opinion that "group health plans that provide more than 60 outpatient visits for physical illnesses must ... provide the same number of visits for serious mental illness ."

A TDI bulletin says the agency will enforce Attorney General Greg Abbott's opinion.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), chair of the Committee on Government Organization, requested the opinion.

TMA policy strongly supports "mental health equitable treatment (parity) of health insurance coverage for psychiatric brain disease and malfunction (mental illness including substance abuse/chemical dependency) equal to that for other medical conditions."

Last fall, Congress passed a federal mental health parity law that was part of the economic bailout plan signed by President George W. Bush. The law says group health plans of 50 or more employees that provide both physical and mental health/substance use benefits must ensure that all financial requirements and treatment limitations applicable to mental health/substance use disorder benefits are no more restrictive than those requirements and limitations placed on physical illness benefits.


Action , Feb. 2, 2009