HARTFORD – State Representative Brenda Kupchick (R-132) joined members of the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) community on Tuesday to testify in support of SB 384, which is a General Assembly bill that would help patients and families of those suffering from mental health issues access services and providers.
The proposed legislation, co-introduced by Rep. Kupchick, concerns mental health parity, data reported by managed care organizations and the all-payer claims database. It was subject to a public hearing before the joint committee on Insurance & Real Estate.
“When the Affordable Care Act passed, most citizens believed all conditions including pre-existing conditions would be covered, but the reality is, individuals with mental illness and their families struggle through a mind-numbing bureaucratic maze filled with dead ends,” said Rep. Kupchick in her testimony.
SB 384 would change and expand mental health parity requirements to require that health carriers report additional data to the Insurance Department, and require that the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange submit a report to the General Assembly regarding the all-payer claims database. Rep. Kupchick said the goal of this legislation is to better understand how our healthcare system is serving Connecticut residents with mental illness and how we can make improvements.
“I truly believed after we passed the Gun Violence, Mental Health and School Safety law, it would be the start of better mental healthcare services and coverage,” said Rep. Kupchick. “I believed mental illness would be treated exactly the same as any physical illness. I’ve listened and learned from members of the NAMI community regularly since 2013, and their concerns and frustrations are the same now as they were then.”
NAMI Co-President Loretta Jay, who is also a Fairfield resident, also testified at the public hearing in support of SB 384, highlighting the proposals that would improve mental health parity.
“NAMI Fairfield strives to build resilience and improve the lives of those affected by mental illness,” said Jay. “Despite parity laws, health insurance companies reimburse providers at lower rates and the process is cumbersome. Fewer in-network providers accept insurance and as a result many people are forced to turn to higher cost out-of-network providers – or they don’t seek treatment at all. We are pleased to have worked with Representative Kupchick to address these problems and we support the proposals put forward in this bill to improve mental health parity.”
Following its public hearing this week, SB 384 awaits action in the Insurance & Real Estate Committee.
“I strongly urge the Insurance & Real Estate Committee to take action on this sensible legislation that makes sure we are taking care of those struggling with mental health issues as well as their families. Especially during this financially difficult time for our state, we cannot allow these services to suffer,” added Rep. Kupchick.