Bill would mandate Michigan insurers cover mental health, substance use disorder treatments - TAI News
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The Michigan Legislature on May 2 sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for signature a bill that would require insurance companies to cover mental health and substance use disorder services. The bill is a response to the growing numbers of Michigan residents dealing with the challenges of such mental health issues as anxiety and depression.

Senate Bill 27 would codify provisions of the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 in state law. The federal guidelines require that insurers cover mental health and substance use disorder treatments the same way they cover other medical and surgical services.

“We’ve all seen [the] devastating impact of the mental health crisis in our state, spanning from suburban, urban and rural communities,” state Sen. Sarah Anthony, a Lansing Democrat and bill sponsor, said at a Michigan House of Representatives Insurance and Financial Services Committee hearing in April. “People of all ages, even children, are struggling with anxiety, depression and substance abuse. And, as policy makers, we need to make sure that they have the care they need.”

Michigan ranks 17th in the nation in overall prevalence of mental health conditions and access to mental health treatment, according to Mental Health America, a nonprofit dedicated to mental health advocacy. When ranking mental health in adults specifically, Michigan rises to 11th place, but when considering only youth, Michigan drops to 35th in the nation.

Studies have found that the mental health of Michigan residents worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, too. At a health care conference in February, Grand Valley State University researchers revealed that Michigan’s suicide rate is 14.3 per 100,000 people, slightly higher than the national average of 14.1 per 100,000. Their research showed that Michigan’s overdose rate is also above the national average at 26 per 100,000 people, compared to the U.S. rate of 24.7 per 100,000. Opioids accounted for 82% of all drug overdose deaths in Michigan as of 2021.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, whose office has been working to combat the growing opioid epidemic in the state, has advocated for the passage of S.B. 27. She said in a statement that Michigan needs to pass a state-level bill in case the federal law is repealed.

“We can strengthen the federal requirements by installing a state-level mandate and at the same time close loopholes that allow insurers to evade their responsibilities to consumers,” Nessel said. “A patient’s need for treatment of substance use disorder, or any other mental health needs can be every bit as acute, urgent, and vital to a patient’s well-being as any other medical intervention. As we combat the opioid epidemic across the State, we must ensure Michigan residents have access to all the health treatment services they require.”

The bill passed both chambers of the Legislature in bipartisan votes of 35-3 in the Senate and 93-12 in the House. If Whitmer signs the bill into law, Michigan will join other states that have codified mental health parity, 37 as of 2021.

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