Assembly Panel Advances Oliver Measure to Ensure Greater Coverage for Mental Health Treatment

Assembly Democrats News Release

Assembly Panel Advances Oliver Measure to Ensure Greater Coverage for Mental Health Treatment

Measure Urges Christie to Forego Exemptions that Allow State to Offer Less Coverage for Mental Health Treatment Than Other Illnesses

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday advanced a measure sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver to help boost access to mental health treatment by increasing insurance coverage.

The measure was approved by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee during a special hearing as part of the comprehensive Assembly Democratic anti-gun violence initiative, which is comprised of more than two dozen bills.

“In order to ensure that people with mental illnesses have access to the treatment they need, mental health services must not be treated as the illegitimate step child of the health insurance world,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “Mental health treatment is crucial to reducing suicide rates, violence and incarceration. This is a crucial component of any strategy to reduce gun violence. In the long run, the cost of providing mental health treatment is far less expensive than the socio-economic fall out of mental illness. It’s also the far more humane approach.”

The Speaker’s legislation (AR-144) urges Governor Christie to take a leadership role in the public mental health agenda and not apply for an annual exemption from the requirements of the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

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"He’s obviously working very, very hard at it. I mean he’s traveling all over the country as chairman of the [Republican Governors Association] and I think at this point he has as good a chance or better than anybody else. His name is household word all across the country, and I think he would make a great president."
—former U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton (R-3), on Gov. Chris Christie