Monday, October 12, 2009
The Pennsylvania House has passed a measure that would bring the state into compliance with three federal insurance laws. House Bill 1593 begins with a mandate that insurance plans offered in the state provide benefits for mental health and substance abuse treatments on a scale comparable to treatment limitations applied to medical and surgical benefits covered by the plan. That would bring the state into compliance with the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. The bill sponsored by Rep. Robert Matzie of Ambridge also brings the state into compliance with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The act prohibits discrimination in premiums or contribution amounts on the basis of genetic information of a covered individual or family member. It also prohibits an insurer from requesting genetic testing from an individual trying to obtain coverage. Finally, HB 1593 forces insurance companies operating in Pennsylvania to offer one year of coverage to a dependent child in college who must take a leave of absence from school for medically necessary reasons. Michelle’s Law requires the coverage. The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration, but Matzie says there is a similar version in the upper chamber that may be considered first. He says he does not care which bill is ultimately signed into law as long as the changes are made. If the state does not pass the legislation any complaints from policyholders would have to be filed with the federal government rather than the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Matzie says complaints filed in Washington take much longer to process and are much more complicated to file.