Montana Governor Steve Bullock today held a ceremonial bill signing for groundbreaking legislation, the Montana Mental Health Parity Act (HB 142), which will provide for mental health parity to give equal treatment for physical health, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders in insurance plans.
“This groundbreaking legislation will help to bolster a full continuum of services for individuals with untreated mental health needs so that they can seek the care they need and deserve,” said Governor Bullock. “This is a good deal for Montanans to drive down healthcare costs, increase access to care, and save lives.”
The Montana Mental Health Parity Act will leverage the private insurance market to help integrate behavioral and physical health care in Montana. This will require insurance companies to cover mental health care the same way physical health care is covered. The Act will also provide a state-level accountability and customer assistance resource for mental health and substance use care coverage.
Representative Laurie Bishop, the bill’s sponsor, joined Governor Bullock at the ceremonial bill signing in Helena today.
“This legislation comes at a critical time as we watch what is happening at the federal level,” said Representative Bishop. “These very important protections for mental health care are all the more relevant as we continue to define our own solution here in Montana.”
This legislation will also help to safeguard mental health benefits for Montana if Congress continues with its plan to remove the consumer protections for mental health in the Affordable Care Act.
Mental health parity can save lives by providing for substance use treatment needs and for the necessary care for those at risk of suicide. The integration of physical and mental health care has also been proven to reduce costs and improve care.