Read SUPPORT%20AB%20154%203.22.11.pdf text version

March 29, 2011

The Honorable William W. Monning Chair, Assembly Health Committee State Capitol, Room 6005 Sacramento, CA, 95814 Dear Assemblymember Monning:

SUPPORT: AB 154 (Beall)

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, California (NAMI) urges a yes vote on AB154. AB 154 would update California parity law to require that a health care service plan contract or health insurance policy must provide coverage for insured people with mental illnesses that is equivalent to coverage for people with other physical illnesses. It also makes changes needed to comply with Federal parity law. NAMI CA is the State's voice on mental illness. Our 19,000 members include many people with a serious mental illness, their families and supporters. NAMI advocates on their behalf, providing education and support to its members and the broader community. AB 154 would provide that a health care service plan contract issued, amended or renewed on or after January 1, 2012, that provides hospital, medical, or surgical coverage, shall provide coverage for the diagnosis and needed treatment of a mental illness for a person of any age, under the same terms and conditions applied to other medical conditions. This includes substance abuse which is frequently a cooccurring disorder with certain brain disorders. Mental illnesses are known to be biologically based brain disorders. It is just, equitable, and practical to provide insurance coverage equal to that for other physical illnesses. All people paying health insurance premiums deserve treatment on an equal basis to others insured whether the illness is termed physical or mental. AB 154 would create financially sound law for California. Early treatment of people with mental illnesses avoids the greater financial and social costs of more severe illness. Delayed or inadequate treatment means more people are likely to become homeless, to be incarcerated, to suffer physical harm or death. When people with mental illness do not receive appropriate treatment through the private sector, they are more likely to end up in state health and corrections facilities being cared for at great expense to the state. Delayed or inadequate treatment can lead to financial ruin of their families and additional emotional trauma. People with serious brain illnesses, when treated fairly and appropriately, can maintain healthy, productive lives. AB 154 would extend coverage to employees of employers with 50 or fewer employees, filling an important gap in coverage. Families alone cannot afford the financial and emotional burdens caused by mental illnesses. To maintain a healthy society, our state will need to step in if insurance does not provide needed care. NAMI CA urges support for this important and fair law. Sincerely, Dorothy Hendrickson, President NAMI California Board of Directors Cc: Assemblymember Jim Beall Members, Assembly Health Committee Cassie Royce, Assembly Health Committee

1010 Hurley Way, Suite 195, Sacramento, CA 95825 (916) 567-0163 phone (916) 567-1757 fax

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