Mental health is a critical component of total health. Your body and mind are connected. Your quality of life depends not just on your physical health, but also on your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Over the years, strides have been made in recognizing that mental health conditions need to be treated with the same attention that physical ailments require. Congress’ passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008 was an especially significant step forward in this regard. The legislation increased access to mental health and addiction services, by preventing health plans from imposing more restrictive rules on such services than on medical and surgical care.
Unfortunately, more work needs to be done.
Here in Connecticut, eleven years later, there are still substantial disparities between physical and behavioral healthcare. Connecticut was once a leader in mental health parity. It is high time that we reclaimed that mantle.
Before the start of Connecticut’s 2019 legislative session, MHC President and CEO, Luis Perez and Former Assistant Attorney General, Arnold Menchel, co-wrote an op-ed titled, Call to Candidates: Let’s Make Connecticut #1 in Mental Health Services Again to promote the idea of passing much-needed next level parity legislation.
To ensure that legislators had a direct channel to the organizations and individuals supporting a parity bill, MHC rallied fellow advocates to form the CT Parity Coalition. More than twenty-five organizations signed on and have been working together all session to elevate parity as a priority.
Thanks to Rep. Sean Scanlon and Sen. Matt Lesser, co-chairs of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, and the ongoing efforts of Rep. Brenda Kupchick (who introduced the bill in 2018), House Bill 7125: An Act Concerning Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits is ready to be enacted. Among its provisions, the bill would require insurers to submit annual reports to the state to ensure transparency and compliance with Federal parity law. The bill recently cleared a critical first step when the Insurance and Real Estate Committee passed it unanimously. However, the bill still needs to be considered by full General Assembly and signed by the governor before it can become law.
We at Mental Health Connecticut will continue to advocate for House Bill 7125 as part of our efforts to break the stigma that is too often associated with mental illness and to achieve improved and expanded access to mental health services. Our own Suzi Craig is leading the CT Party Coalition and has received tremendous support from advocates and legislators across the state to ensure the bill’s passage.
Please help us by contacting your local legislators to encourage them to vote for HB 7125. With only a few weeks left in the legislative session, time is short. Let’s commemorate Mental Health Month by achieving this critical piece of legislation before the month runs out.
Contacting your legislators will take less than five minutes with this easy form! You can use the automatic message as a starter to add in your own personal reasons, you can share the parity video, or you can communicate whatever you think will motivate them to vote yes on parity.
Thank you for your support!
-Rob Michalik, Board Member, Mental Health Connecticut
Rob Michalik currently serves as Director of Business Development for Construction Resources. He holds an MBA in Finance and has substantial experience in economic and business development, government relations, marketing, and communications. Having recently joined Construction Resources, Rob worked previously for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, where he oversaw government affairs and strategic initiatives. He also formerly served on the staff of a U.S. Senator and as an elected official in municipal government.