Mass. House Passes Parity Bill
The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently approved a measure that would require parity treatment for addictive disorders. The bill was approved on a voice vote.
The Boston Globe reported June 25 that the bill would eliminate limits on treatment of addiction, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress, and other “non-biologically” based conditions. Current state law allows benefits for these conditions to be capped at 24 outpatient sessions and 60 days of hospitalization annually — limits that don't exist for general health conditions or other mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
“One disorder not covered fully is addiction, yet one in 10 people in Massachusetts suffers from addiction,” said Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton), a clinical psychologist and sponsor of the parity bill. “We want to make sure people get the coverage they need and deserve.”
Critics say that healthcare benefits should not be expanded until a report is issued on the state's two-year-old health reform law. “We don't understand why the advocates are pushing this before the report comes out,” said Marylou Buyse, president of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans. “This is the worst time to pass a law like this. Healthcare cost [increases] are double-digit right now and passing a new mandate is going to add to the cost of healthcare reform and runs counter to the effort to control costs.”