New Jersey's 21st Legislative District

Senator Tom Kean, Jr.

Senator Tom Kean

Kean Bill Putting Physical Healthcare and Behavioral Healthcare on Equal Footing Passes Senate

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Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-21) to enhance enforcement and oversight of behavioral health parity laws has passed the New Jersey Senate.

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Kean to enhance enforcement and oversight of behavioral health parity laws has passed the New Jersey Senate. (Flickr)

“New Jerseyans should be able to access behavioral healthcare with the same ease as the treatment you would get for a physical illness or injury,” Kean said. “I am committed to improving access to behavioral healthcare throughout the Garden State. We will continue to fight to improve access to quality care for our residents.”

Kean’s legislation, S-1339/A-2031, would clarify the existing parity coverage requirement to include behavioral healthcare services. These services are defined as procedures provided by a licensed health care provider or facility for the treatment of mental illness, emotional disorders, pervasive developmental disorder, autism, and drug or alcohol abuse.

Sen. Kean’s bill is designed to coordinate New Jersey law with the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act – a federal law designed to put mental health benefits on the same footing as other benefits in the law.

Under New Jersey law, mental illness benefits are to be treated as any other benefit under the contract. However, New Jersey law has been more restrictive because it is limited to biologically based mental illness. For example, New Jersey covers treatment for alcoholism, but the duration of the treatment is limited.

S-1339/A-2031 expands the scope of the benefits that are to be covered, including the treatment of emotional disorders, pervasive development disorder, and autism or drug or alcohol abuse.

Senator Kean recently received the “Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Champions Award” from the Mental Health Association of New Jersey, for his work to improve access to behavioral healthcare Statewide.

“This legislation calls for accountability and clarity of the parity laws we already have on the books,” Kean added. “Enacting this legislation will ensure those suffering from mental health issues are given the same quality care as those with physical ailments. I urge the Governor to sign this life-changing legislation into law as soon as possible.”

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