Monday, July 16, 2007

Nuts & Bolts of the Parity Bill

For those who have not seen the bill, here are some nuts & bolts on what the parity bill is all about.

AT LAST AFTER 15 YEARS FINAL HOUSE VOTE IS 114-2 As Rep. Martha Alexander said when addressing the House this afternoon, “This is another historic day in North Carolina – just as it was on May 23, 2007 when this body passed the first mental health parity bill in North Carolina’s history. We are on the verge of ending discrimination in insurance coverage for North Carolina’s citizens with mental illness.” Shortly after those remarks, and several supportive remarks from both sides of the aisle, the House voted 114-2 to concur in the Senate Committee Substitute for House Bill 973. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.

WHAT THE FINAL BILL DOES 1. HB 973 covers all group plans. 2. HB 973 covers 9 diagnoses at full parity – bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, paranoid and other psychotic disorder, schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, anorexia nervosa and bulimia. 3. HB 973 covers all other mental illness diagnoses at financial parity – meaning deductibles, coinsurance factors, co-payments, maximum out-of-pocket as well as annual and lifetime limits must be the same as for physical illnesses. 4. Mental illness diagnoses not included in the 9 listed above may have different durational limits, but the minimum benefit required must provide for: Thirty (30) combined inpatient and outpatient days per year and Thirty (30) office visits per year 5. It law becomes effective July 1, 2008.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? The bill goes to the Governor for signature. There is no indication that the Governor would not sign the bill. His staff have told us they support the mental health parity effort.


Prepared by Sally Cameron NC Psychological Association July 12, 2007

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