State Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) yesterday filed Senate Bill 1024, Increasing Access to Mental Health Care. The bill instructs the Florida Department of Financial Services, in collaboration with the Agency for Health Care Administration, to establish a system to track and monitor complaints made by insureds covered under individual or group insurance, or health maintenance organization policies regarding the adequacy of their coverage and access to mental health services. The goal of the bill is to increase access to mental health coverage and care by raising awareness of state and federal coverage requirements among insured and by creating a system to better track, identify, and remedy complaints relating to coverage.
“In recent years, the importance of acknowledging, understanding, and remedying mental health issues has become more and more evident,” said Senator Brodeur. “This bill gives everyone who is suffering from mental health issues a voice to make sure that they are satisfied with their health care coverage.”
The bill also instructs insurers and HMOs to provide written notice to insureds, subscribers, and enrollees of the federal and state requirements for coverage of mental health services. The notice must also provide the statewide toll-free number of Department of Financial Services used for logging complaints.
“Too many Floridians feel scared and alone while trying to charter the difficult waters of their insurer’s mental health coverage” said Adam Roberts of the Apalachee Center, a mental health center serving Florida’s big bend region. “We at the Florida Mental Health Advocacy Coalition applaud Senator Jason Brodeur and Representative Cyndi Stevenson for this vital legislation.”
Under the bill, the Department is directed to provide a report to the legislature by January 1st, 2022, detailing the data tracked regarding complaints related to the adequacy and accessibility of mental health care coverage and services.
“The purpose of this bill is to help people get the right services, at the right place, at the right time” said Representative Stevenson (R-St. Augustine), who has introduced the House companion bill, HB 701. “Too often we hear complaints and it is years too late. The consequences can be catastrophic. This bill is an attempt to remedy that.”
Senator Brodeur added, “As Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Policy, I’m determined to ensure that the people who struggle with mental health issues have the most amount of information possible and have the ability to voice their concerns with their health care coverage. When it comes to your health, no one should feel helpless.”