Michigan implements tougher mental health parity law

New legislation in Michigan will prevent insurers from imposing more restrictions on mental health and substance use services than medical services. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the legislation May 21. According to a news release, the bill is designed to close existing loopholes in the state's mental health parity laws. 

The bill will bar insurers from imposing higher copayments, deductibles or out-of-pocket maximums for mental health or substance use services than they impose for medical services. In addition, insurers cannot impose greater qualitative limits, such as the number of treatments covered, for mental health services than medical services. 

The legislation brings Michigan's mental health coverage laws in line with the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, the Detroit Free-Press reported May 21. 

The bill passed with bipartisan support, according to the Detroit Free-Press. It was backed by mental health advocates and insurers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. 

"Getting this done will ensure Michiganders get the care they need and close loopholes that have allowed providers to avoid covering these essential services," Ms. Whitmer said in the news release. 

At the federal level, the Biden Administration has pursued tougher mental health coverage standards for insurers. In July 2023, CMS proposed a new rule to prevent plans from having more restrictive prior authorization standards or narrow networks for mental healthcare. The rule would also require plans to study the outcomes of their mental health coverage policies. 

Insurers opposed the proposed rule, arguing it would not achieve the goal of broadening access to mental health services. 

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