Parity Bill Got Early Hearing in House Committee
(Austin – Feb. 28, 2017) In its first meeting to consider legislation this session, Jacob Cuellar, M.D., CEO of Laurel Ridge Treatment Center, San Antonio and member of the Texas Hospital Association’s Behavioral Health Council, testified today before the Texas House Committee on Public Health in support of Rep. Four Price’s (R-Amarillo) mental health parity bill, House Bill 10.
“House Bill 10 increases access to timely, medically necessary behavioral health care treatment,” said Cuellar. “When TDI can fully enforce the federal parity law, Texans can be more proactive in their approach to behavioral health treatment and avoid costly, crisis-centered care.”
Because mental health and physical health treatment are treated differently, many Texans with a behavioral health diagnosis have to wait until they experience a behavioral health crisis before seeking treatment, often in clinically inappropriate settings, such as hospital emergency departments. Removing barriers to mental health and substance use treatment and simplifying the process to obtain it will improve behavioral health outcomes and significantly reduce hospitals’ charity care burden.
In less than a decade, psychiatric visits to hospital emergency departments rose 55 percent, from 4.4 million in 2002 to 6.8 million in 2011, according to a Sept. 2016 study published in
Health Affairs journal. Yet, the same increase did not occur for patients presenting to the emergency department with a physical illness.
“Texas hospitals appreciate chairman Price’s commitment to improving Texans’ mental wellness through House Bill 10,” said Ted Shaw, president/CEO of the Texas Hospital Association.
The House Select Committee on Mental Health, chaired by Rep. Price during the interim, recommended a state mental health parity law.