• Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

New Rhode Island Legislation Set to Boost Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Coverage

BySamantha Nguyen

Apr 2, 2024
Rhode Island legislators introduce legislation to enhance mental health, substance abuse coverage

New legislation has been proposed by two Rhode Island lawmakers to address the issue of inadequate mental and substance abuse treatment coverage by health insurance. The bill aims to require insurers to cover chronic or pervasive mental and substance use disorders to the same extent as they would cover acute or short-term treatment.

One of the main concerns raised by behavioral health advocates is the administrative process of “prior authorization,” which can be a barrier to people receiving the care they need. Under the proposed law, insurers would be prohibited from requiring patients to obtain prior authorization before seeking mental or substance abuse disorder treatment.

According to Rep. Teresa Tanzi, D-South Kingstown, there is a disparity in how insurers treat chronic health issues compared to acute health issues. For example, someone waking up from a diabetic coma would receive continued care for diabetes, while someone hospitalized for an overdose might be denied coverage for substance dependency treatment. Tanzi emphasizes that both cases are critical health issues that require proper care.

The legislation, sponsored by Tanzi and Sen. Linda Ujifusa, D-Portsmouth, has the support of the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island and other behavioral health care providers. Similar laws have been passed in four other states.

Sen. Ujifusa highlights the growing mental health and substance abuse issues that have arisen since the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting people of all ages and demographics. She notes that addressing these issues promptly is crucial to avoid more severe and costly problems in the future.

The proposed law would ensure that individuals who suffer from chronic mental and substance use disorders receive the same level of coverage as those who suffer from acute or short-term conditions, removing a significant barrier for many individuals seeking help.

Behavioral health advocates have long argued that prior authorization can prevent people from receiving necessary care when they need it most.

Under this new legislation, individuals seeking mental or substance abuse disorder treatment would no longer be required to obtain prior authorization before receiving treatment.

Representative Teresa Tanzi noted that there is currently a disparity in how insurers treat chronic illnesses compared to acute illnesses.

For instance, someone recovering from a diabetic coma may receive ongoing care for their diabetes condition, while someone recovering from an overdose may not receive coverage for addiction treatment.

Tanzi emphasized that both cases are critical health issues that require proper care.

Similar legislation has already been passed in four other states.

By Samantha Nguyen

As a content writer at newsqwe.com, I am passionate about crafting engaging and informative articles that captivate our audience. With a background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I strive to deliver content that is not only well-researched but also adds value to our readers' lives. From breaking news stories to in-depth features, I take pride in my ability to tell compelling stories that resonate with our diverse audience. When I'm not typing away at my keyboard, you can find me exploring new cafes, practicing yoga, or getting lost in a good book. I am thrilled to be a part of the newsqwe.com team and look forward to sharing my love for writing with all of our readers.

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