Signing of law signals importance of mental health in Massachusetts – InsuranceNewsNet

It is a fundamental bill dealing with the structure and delivery of mental health services Massachusetts Residents primarily concerned with insurance company issues: from provider compensation, standardizing paperwork, expense tracking to establishing a statewide office to promote mental wellbeing.

While insurance coverage is mandated for an annual mental health wellness screening, it notes that in Massachusetts At the very least, mental health is just as important as physical health.

Signed by Governor Charlie Baker on August 16th In a post-legislative session ceremony, the ABC Mental Health Act: Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC), Baker said, “sets the parts necessary to achieve a place of true parity” in mental and behavioral health services.

It’s a big step towards destigmatizing mental illness and substance abuse.

The bill was drafted by both in the post-finals hours of the 192nd legislative session senate and the house last month. It came to fruition after decades of work senate president Karen A Spilka (D-Ashland) and “countless individuals, families, advocates, providers, and others who championed the sane idea that mental health is just as important as physical health.” She thanked “everyone who fought for mental health care reform Massachusetts and never gave up.”

In announcing the passage of the bill, Spilka was open about her family’s own struggles with mental health.

“Many years ago, in a moment, I made the decision to share the story of my family’s struggle with mental illness – a moment of vulnerability and honesty that has become a movement for more and more people to stand up and advocate for accessible, quality mental health care,” Spilka said. “We all deserve to have access to the mental health care we need, when we need it.”

The Comprehensive Mental and Behavioral Health Reform Act breaks down barriers to entry in a number of ways:

For consumers: It requires insurers to pay for annual mental and behavioral health screenings and care.

It expands support for behavioral health in school settings. It provides screening and referrals for children entering the foster care system. It expands care for vulnerable populations: Extending parental insurance coverage to disabled adults over 26. And it creates a team in the Health Equality Office Improving access to and quality of culturally competent mental health services.

For Practitioners: It ensures providers are paid on an equal footing with primary care physicians and provides tools needed to enforce regulations for commercial, federal contracted, and student health insurance plans.

It addresses the problem of housing crisis patients in hospital emergency rooms while providers search for a psychiatric bed for one person, sometimes for weeks. The bill encourages the creation of a portal that will provide instant access to bed availability.

Eliminates the need for prior approvals, particularly for acute care and stabilization services for adults and children.

Engages all insurers to cover mental health services and substance use disorders and supports the collaborative model of care of a team of health professionals that includes the patient’s primary care physician, psychiatrist and behavioral health manager. This collaborative care has proven to be effective, less costly and less stigmatizing.

Improves access to Emergency Services Programs (ESPs).

Promotes the development of a set of medical necessity criteria for mental health providers and insurance companies.

Creates standardized release forms that allow physicians to share confidential medical information.

mandates that Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) track the delivery of services to establish a baseline of current expenditure.

The bill also mandates screening of subcontractors and behavioral health managers, who in many cases are hired by commercial insurance companies to provide coverage for mental health services.

“I am incredibly proud of the mental health legislation passed today, which will help address the behavioral health crisis that so many of our residents are currently experiencing and will bring us closer to equal mental and physical health treatment,” said the Speaker of the House of Representatives Ronald J Mariano.

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