Illinois reportedly has the strongest mental health parity laws and policies in the country, according to new state report cards released this week.
The state was the only state with an ‘A’ grade (100/100) on the test of compliance with the Federal Parity Law, which calls for providing coverage of mental health and substance use disorders on par with other illnesses. Tennessee was second in the grading with a ‘C’ (79/100). Thirty-two states received failing grades in the assessment ‘Evaluating State Mental Health and Addiction Parity Statutes’ jointly released by the Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity, The Kennedy Forum, The Carter Center, and Well Being Trust (WBT) Center.
“Our administration’s focus on mental health and substance use disorders is paying off in better care and more comprehensive coverage for Illinoisans,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said in a statement. “Our goal is to lead the nation in providing high quality, cost efficient health care. The Kennedy-Satcher assessment score is a clear indicator for our progress. There is more work to do and our teams are working together to make more advances in these important areas of public health.”
Last summer, Illinois received a $2 billion Better Care Illinois 1115 Medicaid Waiver to pilot precedent-setting treatments for behavioral health. Thirteen state agencies worked with health care advocates to develop a plan to improve delivery of mental health and addiction services.
“Our ‘A’ grade on parity demonstrates how this administration is committed to treating mental health and substance use problems the same as other chronic physical conditions like diabetes and heart disease,” said Secretary James Dimas of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). “Too often, stigma impacts how behavioral health problems are covered and prevents individuals from seeking help. We believe that our parity laws in Illinois will lead to greater access to care for those struggling with mental health and substance use issues.”
This summer, the governor signed a major, bipartisan mental health package focused on comprehensive, evidence-based solutions. One of the bills, Senate Bill 1707, improves insurance companies’ coverage of mental health and substance use disorder treatments and strengthens the ability of the Illinois Department of Insurance (IDOI) to protect consumers.
Illinois’ report card specifically notes that state has had, “strong implementation of [Illinois’] newly enacted parity statute.”
IDOI became the first state insurance department to conduct targeted mental health market conduct exams on insurance companies that sell on the Exchange this year.
Those interested can learn more about receiving help with ensuring mental health parity by clicking here.