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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Burt, LMFT

Two New State Laws Aim to Improve Access to Mental Health Treatment

Two new state laws in Missouri and Arkansas, aim to improve patient access to mental health treatment.

In Missouri, Kurtis Gregory’s HB 604 strengthens equitable insurance coverage for mental health treatment, bringing Missouri in line with federal mental health parity law. One portion of the new law prohibits insurance companies from imposing limitations on mental health benefits that are more demanding than those applied to medical benefits.

As quoted in the Missouri Times, NAMI Missouri Executive Director Gena Terlizzi previously said: “Our hope is that this measure will help eliminate or at least reduce the number of times these individuals are having to go back and either appeal a decision or go through the process of filing a parity violation complaint. The more often we can see mental health treated like physical health conditions, that is a step in the right direction for us because mental health conditions are very serious and can be debilitating, and we want them to be addressed as seriously as physical illnesses.

Meanwhile in Arkansas, HB1176 requires the Department of Human Services and Medicaid to continue paying for mental health telehealth services as they did during the state of emergency.

Regarding the bill State Rep. Lee Johnson, R-Greenwood, said: "Mental health is an important part of our health in general. We need to recognize that it's as important as taking care of your blood pressure or diabetes. It's a critical part of how we care for our patients."

According to THV 11, prior to this year Medicaid required a referral from a primary care provider to get mental health services after your first three visits. But the new law extends that out, so patients can have 10 visits before needing a referral.

Does your state or private insurance provide access to telehealth? What parity laws exist in your state? Are they sufficient to ensure true parity?

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