House Bill 220

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO INSURANCE COVERAGE

FOR DRUG AND ALCOHOL DEPENDENCY AND MEDICATION ASSISTED TREATMENT

This Act adds coverage for Medication Assisted Treatment (“MAT”) for drug and alcohol dependencies to the mental health parity laws for health insurance. This Act requires health insurance carriers to provide coverage for prescription medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for MAT at no greater financial burden than for prescription medication for other illness or disease, without step therapy requirements, and at the lowest tier of the drug formulary. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.

http://legis.delaware.gov/BillDetail?LegislationId=47693

NAMI Delaware supports HB 220

At NAMI Delaware, we learned of a 24-year-old young man from Newark named Alex who lived with substance use disorder. Like many people with this condition, he had trouble accepting that he had an illness and that he needed treatment. This young man had been a star student with a promising future. But in his teens and into his twenties, his illness took over.

For the 12 years that he struggled, Alex’s parents searched our state for quality, affordable, available treatment facilities that could help him just in case he ever decided he was ready to accept treatment.

But, they learned what we hear at NAMI Delaware every single day. It is not easy to access an affordable facility with an open bed and offering the right medications, in a timely manner to respond to someone who has finally accepted that they need and want treatment. Sadly, Alex’s story ends in tragedy. At the age of 24, Alex died by suicide.

Substance use disorder, like other mental health conditions, is very common. It is estimated to affect one in four, and often co-occurs with other mental health conditions, yet, as many as 80% of those affected never get treatment.

Unlike any other health condition, there is an added challenge to treatment for people with mental health conditions like substance use disorder. Their illness affects the organ in their body responsible for making sound decisions, so it isn’t easy to understand and accept that they even have an illness, much less to realize they need and should accept treatment. So every day at NAMI Delaware we work to eliminate barriers to quality care so that when an individual is ready to accept treatment, nothing stands in their way.

HB 220 will help eliminate some of those barriers like waiting periods, pre-authorizations, and medication restrictions that keep people like Alex from finding recovery. Once someone has overcome the internal barriers of stigma and lack of insight and they are ready to accept treatment, barriers like time, cost, and access should not stand in their way.

Please support HB 220 and help break down the barriers to treatment so many Delawareans face every day.