Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation that will enhance enforcement of mental health parity laws by improving transparency and accountability related to the insurance coverage of mental health and substance use disorder treatment services for New Jersey residents.
The law, A2031/S1339, requires health insurers to provide coverage for mental health conditions and substance use disorders under the same terms and conditions as provided for any other sickness and to meet the requirements of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, a federal law enacted in 2008.
“No one should have to forego treatment or take on a monumental expense to receive care because of inequities in coverage. This new law enhances enforcement and oversight of mental health parity laws to ensure that mental health and substance use disorders are treated on par with physical health conditions,” says said Governor Murphy. “Providing access to health care remains a priority for my administration and we will continue to work to remove obstacles that hinder people’s abilities to receive the care they need.”
Adds Department of Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson: “Mental health care is health care. Substance use disorder treatment is health care. Our laws should be clear that these conditions must be covered on par with the way we cover other health care services. Today, New Jersey is taking action to ensure that our laws match our goals.”
The department encourages the public to communicate concerns and complaints regarding parity by calling the Department of Banking and Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-446-7467 (8:30 am to 5:00 pm EST Monday through Friday), or by clicking on Consumer Assistance – Inquiries/Complaints at the department Web site.
Governor Phil Murphy also signed legislation that will allow terminally ill New Jersey adults to end their lives peacefully, with dignity, and at their own discretion. The bill, makes New Jersey the eighth state to allow such end-of-life decisions with the assistance of medical professionals.
The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act permits terminally ill, adult patients residing in New Jersey to obtain and self-administer medication to end their lives peacefully and humanely. A patient’s attending and consulting physicians must determine that the patient has a life expectancy of six months or less, has the capacity to make health care decisions, and is acting voluntarily, in order for the patient to obtain the medication.
The bill establishes additional procedures and safeguards that patients, physicians, and other health care professionals must follow before a qualifying patient may legally obtain and self-administer the medication.
“It is impossible for my terminally ill sister Melissa and I to express our profound sense of relief that this legislation is now law,” said law supporter Laurie Wilcox of Clark NJ, a retired nurse who herself has rheumatoid arthritis that requires her to wear an oxygen tank most of the day to breathe. “As nurses, we know the limits of modern medicine to relieve suffering and we are so grateful we now have the option to peacefully end our end-of-life suffering, if we need it.”