House Bill 10 Heads to Governor’s Desk
(Austin – May 23, 2017) Legislation to improve statewide access to mental health and substance use treatment will soon make its way to Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) desk, as the Texas Senate late yesterday approved House Bill 10 by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo) and Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo).
HB 10 increases the Texas Department of Insurance’s authority to enforce the existing parity law, which requires health plans offering mental health and substance use treatment coverage to provide comparable coverage for physical and mental health conditions. It also creates a behavioral health ombudsman to help consumers and providers navigate and resolve challenges related to behavioral health care access.
“Enforcing mental health parity is an important step in mental health care reform,” said Ted Shaw, president/CEO of the Texas Hospital Association. “Texas hospitals appreciate the legislature’s commitment to improving the state’s mental health system and promoting access to necessary treatment.”
More than half a million Texas adults experience a serious and persistent mental illness annually. Half a million Texas children have a serious emotional disturbance. Yet, a fraction of those individuals actually receive treatment each year.
Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) convened the Select Committee on Mental Health, chaired by Rep. Price, during the interim to identify solutions to the state’s mental health system. One of the committee’s recommendations was a state mental health parity law.