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Friday, January 27, 2012

California Legislative Action

At AP, Judy Lin reports on action in California:
The state Assembly on Thursday passed a set of bills intended to broaden the mental health and health care services covered by private insurance plans. 
Lawmakers approved AB154, which would require insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses, and AB171 for coverage of developmental disorders such as autism. They also approved legislation to cover oral chemotherapy treatments and mammograms regardless of age. 
The bills now move to the Senate ahead of a Tuesday deadline to pass legislation that was introduced last year.
From the Assembly bill analysis:
According to the author, this bill is intended to  confirm existing law and close perceived loopholes that health  plans and insurers exploit to deny essential treatment to individuals with PDD/A. The author maintains that, by explicitly listing medically necessary health care services that  must be covered for PDD/A, this bill confirms the coverage in the existing mental health parity law and basic health care  service requirements and will significantly reduce the need for  the DMHC and CDI to overturn continually erroneous coverage  denials by plans and insurers. The author points out that  requiring health plans and health insurers to cover screening,  diagnosis, and treatment of PDD/A and to develop and maintain  networks of qualified PDD/A service providers will force them to  bear their fair share of the responsibility for providing  essential and comprehensive treatment to the families in  California impacted by these conditions. The author adds that  this bill is intended to complete the end of insurance  discrimination against individuals with PDD/A that was started  in 2011 with the enactment of SB 946 (Steinberg), Chapter 650, Statutes of 2011, which dealt with behavioral health treatment  by addressing screening diagnosis and the remaining essential  medical treatments for PDD/A, such as speech, physical and occupational therapy, which are routinely denied despite clear  coverage requirements in existing law.