New Jersey – Mental Health Parity Legislation Signed Into Law
May 2019 ~
The Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, has signed legislation that will enhance enforcement of mental health parity laws in the state. The law aims to improve transparency and accountability by requiring insurers to provide coverage consistent with federal requirements of the Mental Health Parity Act of 2008.
The law applies to health service corporations, commercial insurers, health maintenance organizations, health benefits plans issued pursuant to the New Jersey Individual Health Coverage and Small Employer Health Benefits Programs, the State Health Benefits Program, and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program.
The new law changes certain definitions relating to mental health and spells out that parity must apply to treatment for autism and disorders relating to eating and other compulsions. It also bars insurance companies from creating obstacles to behavioral healthcare that don’t exist for physical treatments, including additional co-pays, limits on services, or usage reviews.
The law also requires health insurers to provide coverage for mental health conditions and substance use disorders under the same terms and conditions as provided for any other sickness and to meet the requirements. Health plans will be required to submit an annual report to the state’s Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) to demonstrate compliance with mental health parity laws.
In an effort to provide additional and complete transparency the law will also require the DOBI to develop a report detailing oversight of the bill’s provisions for the Legislature and public review.
“Being able to maintain mental health should be no different than being able to maintain physical health,” Governor Murphy said, hoping it would bring “real peace of mind” to families struggling to address psychiatric and drug-abuse issues.
The law takes effect on the 60th day after enactment, June 10, 2019.