Mental Health Parity is the Law… Let’s Make it Work!

We crossed the finish line.

Senate Bill 860 was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown late last week.

Back in February when we started this journey, we introduced legislation to make Mental Health Parity a reality in our state.

Our belief was that mental health parity starts with parity in reimbursement practices. Insurance companies’ reimbursement rate schedules are the primary means by which we build equivalent physician and mental health provider panels. Parity in reimbursement practices is needed:

  • to support an adequate mental health work force,

  • to assure consumers will have access to in-network mental health providers to reduce their out of pocket costs for services, and

  • to assure that any insurance benefit design, or the implementation of benefit design does not discriminate based on mental health status, mental health condition, or mental health history

We made our case to the legislature with Senate Bill 860.

Senate Bill 860 starts the process of requiring insurance companies to reimburse mental health professionals in an equivalent manner to how they reimburse physicians. It will also start the process of ending aggressive or punitive utilization reviews of mental health services, including over-management and underpayment of CPT 90837 sessions. 

It will require state enforcement of the existing Oregon Mental Health Parity Law to ensure our patients have full access to critical mental health services. 

Over several months, hundreds of you called, emailed, testified and asked your legislators to support the bill. All of it paid off.

Senate Bill 860 is now law.

Now comes the exciting part … the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) will begin their examinations of insurer practices, and we anticipate there will be opportunities for mental health practitioners to add their expertise to the process.

We will be communicating with you about the DCBS process and how you can get involved and add your input. Stay tuned!