Parity for substance use disorders - SB 502-FN

Parity for substance use disorders - SB 502-FN

The intent of SB 502-FN is to ensure enforcement of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in the State of New Hampshire. Parity is a federal requirement of health insurance plans that cover mental health (MH) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) benefits to cover these benefits equally (at “parity”) with other medical and surgical benefits. This federal law specifically states that carriers cannot make access, financial or otherwise, to MH or SUD services any more restrictive than access to other medical benefits.

Despite the fact that these protections exist in federal law, a 2015 report by the National Alliance for Mental Illness uncovered an overwhelming failure by states to adequately enforce the parity law. As a result, individuals with mental illness and SUD are still facing significant issues accessing services from health insurance carriers. Parity violations highlighted in this report range from access in-network MH and SUD providers, to coverage for MH and SUD medications, to service denials based on medical necessity criteria inconsistent with best practices. And New Hampshire is no exception; over the past three years, New Futures has heard numerous accounts of similar, blatant parity violations by New Hampshire health insurance carriers.

As mentioned above, the purpose of SB 502-FN is to ensure parity enforcement in New Hampshire. Since drafting SB 502-FN, the Insurance Department (NHID) has agreed to take a number of steps to ensure health plan compliance with the federal parity law. In November, NHID announced a Market Conduct Review of all health carriers and their SUD benefit administration practices- the results of which will inform future parity enforcement efforts. NHID has also committed to working other administrative agencies and stakeholders on issues related to parity enforcement moving forward.

For the reasons cited above, New Futures supports the recommendation that SB 502-FN be referred to interim study.

On march 3rd the senate voted to refer this bill to interim study on a voice vote.

Bill Status
  • Committee
  • Public Hearing
  • Executive Session
  • Full Body Vote
  • Committee
  • Public Hearing
  • Executive Session
  • Full Body Vote