Legislation introduced this year in Michigan would require health insurance plans to cover all “medically necessary” mental health treatment—including for substance use disorders. And a new poll suggests most Michiganders agree with the policy.

LANSING—A poll released this week by the Health is Health coalition shows 88% of Michiganders want health insurance plans to cover treatment that addresses both their physical and mental health conditions, without cutting treatment short or adding arbitrary limits on care.

And under legislation introduced earlier this year, Michigan lawmakers plan to give it to them.

House Bill 4707 was introduced in June by state Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Ann Arbor) and has since passed out of a committee for further consideration this fall. And if it passes into law, health insurers in Michigan would be required to provide coverage for “medically necessary treatment of a mental health or substance abuse disorder,” according to a House analysis.

“My bill ensures people can access the services and supports that are medically necessary for their recovery,” Brabec said in a statement this week. “We know what it takes to help people address their mental health issues, and our position is backed by federal law. What’s needed now is a change to help offer clearer guidance to insurers, providers, and patients alike.”

Specifically, the legislation would prohibit health plans from limiting coverage to only short-term symptom reduction for chronic conditions—which Brabec contends will help to end cycles of relapse, costly emergency department visits, and repeat hospitalizations for Michiganders. 

Studies show that about half of the children in the US with mental health conditions are not receiving treatment. And about 5,000 Michiganders die every year by suicide or overdose

Anything to expand mental health access—and insurance coverage—could save lives, the Health is Health Coalition argues. Proponents also contend that guaranteeing insurance coverage will reduce the toll that a lack of treatment has on law enforcement agencies.

“Access is a huge issue for many people facing mental health conditions,” Health is Health Coalition member Rachel Cuschieri-Murray said in a statement. “Statewide, we’re seeing too many people going without the treatments their doctors and therapists recommend, simply because their health plans won’t cover the costs. The data tell the story—both in terms of people who are going without care, and the overwhelming public support for change.”

An EPIC-MRA poll released by the Health is Health coalition showcases the need—and support from most Michiganders—for stronger mental health access in Michigan. More than 90% of respondents said they wanted health insurance plans to provide out-of-network care at no extra charge, and about 88% said they supported efforts to expand insurance coverage in Michigan.

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