Center's Report Calls for Mental Health Legislation

Article excerpt

Providing health care coverage for biologically based mental illness is cost-effective, according to a report by Oklahoma State University's Center for Health Policy Research.

"There is a compelling reason, and minimal associated risk, to enact state mental health parity legislation similar to Senate Bill 1059," the report concluded. "We recommend that insurers and advocates use fall 1998 to develop a similar bill, and that both responsibly engage Oklahoma businesses and chambers of commerce."

The Oklahoma House of Representatives Mental Health Committee is looking at developing legislation providing parity between physical and mental health insurance coverage. Lawmakers approved SB 1059, by Sen. Angela Monson, D-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Mark Seikel, D-Harrah, during the last legislative session. The bill would have required group health insurance and health benefit plans to include coverage for treatment of adults, adolescents and children with severe mental illness. It also would have required that mental health benefits and restrictions, such as preauthorization and utilization review, be equal to those for other physical diseases and disorders. Policies that provide coverage for a specified disease or other limited benefit coverage, and for groups with 50 or fewer employees, would have been exempted from the requirement, however, and the mandate would have been void if it resulted in a premium increase greater than 3 percent. …