Mental health insurance bill gets Texas House thumbs up

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Tentative approval was given to a bill that would ensure equal insurance coverage for mental and physical care.

The Texas House granted tentative approval for legislation to provide equal physical and mental health insurance coverage for care. This would make sure that Texans can obtain care regardless of whether the nature of the illness is of the body or the mind.

This health care legislation was proposed by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo) earlier this week.

The mental health insurance legislation was the first of a number Price filed regarding mental health care. These proposals were made on the heels of a series of interim committee hearings focusing on that subject.

Insurance companies do not provide adequate coverage for mental health care, said Price to his colleagues. He underscored the fact that this was continuing despite the fact that there are parity laws in place. “(Patients) need to be able to access the care they’re paying for,” said Price.

Both state and federal law already require physical and mental health insurance coverage parity.

mental health insurance companiesThat said, the Texas Department of Insurance has struggled to regulate and enforce those health care laws. “That is the law already, but what is significant about that is TDI at the state level has limited enforcement authority,” Price said.

This new legislation would allow the Texas Department of Insurance to create an ombudsman position and fill it in order to correct issues such as this lack of enforcement of the mental health coverage law. At the moment, that department is limited in the regulation of mental health coverage parity in group benefits provided by large employers, explained Price.

Price also pointed out that this bill would not actually broaden or mandate new insurance coverage. Nor would it cost the state any additional money or increase insurance premiums. The House gave its tentative approval in a vote of 110 to 12. The bill also features a version in the Senate and will require a third and final reading before it does indeed head to the Senate.

Rep. Joe Moody (D- El Paso) gave his thanks to Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) and to price regarding this mental health insurance issue. He showed his gratitude “for making mental health a priority in Texas this session and not waiting any longer…”

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