Sunday, February 14, 2010

N.J. opts out of parity coverage for state workers

About 800,000 New Jersey state workers and school employees won't be covered under the new federal mental health parity law.

That's because the federal law allows state and local governments to opt out. In December, New Jersey's State Health Benefits Commission voted 3-2 to request the waiver from federal parity rules, as it has for the past decade.

State workers and school employees will instead be covered under New Jersey's mental health parity rules, which only require equal coverage for so-called "biologically based" mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia and autism. For insured state workers, treatment for illnesses like eating disorders is subject to an annual limit of $15,000 and a lifetime limit of $50,000.

"If somebody has to go into a facility for treatment for an eating disorder, obviously you can run through that pretty quickly," said Dudley Burdge, a representative for the Communications Workers of America AFL-CIO. Burdge is a commission member who voted against the waiver request.

When originally proposed, the federal mental health parity law was intended to apply to everybody, but that's not what happened, the union rep said.

"It's a very abstruse piece of legislation," said Burdge.

1 comment:

  1. This article may be of interest to you, Kelly: