Mental health insurance requirements advance

Senators gave first-round approval March 15 to a bill that would create insurance parity for mental health services provided through telehealth in Nebraska.

Sen. John Arch
Sen. John Arch

LB487, introduced by La Vista Sen. John Arch, would prohibit a private health insurance plan that covers mental health treatment from establishing rates, terms or conditions that place a greater financial burden on an insured for accessing treatment via telehealth.

The bill also would require that the reimbursement rate for telehealth treatment for a mental health condition be the same as the rate for a comparable treatment provided in person.

Arch said private insurers voluntarily established such parity during the pandemic when telehealth usage “skyrocketed,” and that making the requirement permanent is a priority for the state’s mental health providers. Telehealth increases accessibility, he said, and insurance parity could encourage more people — especially in rural areas — to seek treatment.

“Because of the pandemic, we are learning that patients can effectively receive these services from almost anywhere,” Arch said.

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt supported the bill, saying the state should prioritize access to health care both during the pandemic and beyond.

“All of us are only as healthy as the least taken care of, the poorest insured — the person with the least access to health care in our state,” she said.

Following the 47-0 adoption of a technical Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee amendment, senators voted 46-0 to advance LB487 to select file.

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