CONCORD – Two significant efforts to combat New Hampshire’s opioid and mental health crises were signed into law on Monday, July 10 (SB 157) and on June 29 (SB 158). SB 157 and SB 158, sponsored by Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord), further New Hampshire’s efforts on mental health and addiction equity, otherwise known as “parity” — ensuring insurance companies don’t treat persons with mental health or substance use disorders differently than persons with other medical/surgical needs.
SB 157 adds substance use disorders as part of a network adequacy for insurance carriers. It also requires carriers to properly notify consumers of their rights, including the right to appeal and the right to access services out-of-network at the same cost as in-network. Often times, services for mental health or substance use disorders are unavailable in-network in New Hampshire. SB 158 addresses the practice of some insurance companies to routinely require time- intensive and arbitrary prior authorization before approving medication assisted treatment. By requiring prior authorization every few weeks or every few months, insurance companies had placed an unreasonable and unjustified burden on providers and increased waiting times for needed treatment. SB 158 says prior authorization can be required no more than once per year. Prior to SB 158, there was no law dealing with the handling of prior authorization for medication assisted treatment.
Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord) offered the following comments on these measures:
“Both SB 157 and SB 158 help us build-out our treatment capacity, help address pressing public health problems facing the Granite State, and help make sure persons with mental health or substance use disorders are treated fairly by insurance companies. SB 157 ensures that the right information is provided at the right time, as insurance companies shouldn’t hide the ball with folks struggling to find help. SB 157 also makes clear substance use disorder services are part of an ‘adequate’ network required for insurance carriers,” said Dan Feltes. “After SB 532 of last year, SB 158 continues our bipartisan effort to break down insurance company barriers to opioid treatment. Everyone knows that medication assisted treatment is cost-effective treatment where delay to access can mean the difference between life or death. This bill standardizes and streamlines the process for timely care, and it further strengthens our effort to combat the opioid epidemic.”