April 11, 2019
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill on Thursday to help ease the financial burden of seeking mental health treatment.
According to a press release from the Governor’s office, the legislation will increase enforcement of state Mental Health Parity laws, which require insurers to cover mental health treatment just as they would for a medical procedure or treatment. This improved transparency and accountability will benefit New Jersey residents seeking mental health and substance use disorder treatment services.
“No one should have to forego treatment or take on a monumental expense to receive care because of inequities in coverage. We must do everything we can to ensure that individuals who need treatment are able to get it. This new law enhances enforcement and oversight of mental health parity laws to ensure that mental health and substance use disorders are treated on par with physical health conditions,” Murphy said in the announcement.
The law means New Jersey gets one step closer to recognizing mental health care as a bona fide form of health care. As of May 2018, 57,000 New Jersey residents claimed to be depressed. The state saw 1,969 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in 2017, about 50 percent higher than the national average, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
NJ.com reported that, before signing the law in Trenton on Thursday, Murphy said:
“For too many individuals, true parity still does not fully exist. This new law will help us to deliver access to mental health and substance use services on par with any other medical service.”
According to the governor's office, the law applies to the following: 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.