Concerned members of the New Hampshire State Senate have been fast-tracking bills setting new standards for rehab coverage through health insurance, as well as provide additional provisions to help respond to a drug overdose epidemic currently taking place in New Hampshire. Mark McCue, a Manchester, New Hampshire attorney has been an outspoken advocate for fast-tracking a newly proposed bill in that state related to health insurance coverage for substance abuse and addiction treatment. To fast-track a bill in legislation means to quickly push a bill through to authorize it and allow the bill to be in action. If passed, New Hampshire Senate Bill 576 (NH SB576) would require insurance companies to adhere to a national standard of conduct as clarified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine when determining the nature of coverage for an individual in treatment for drug addiction.
Included in the bill is a call for insurance companies to be responsible for covering two outpatient substance abuse treatments and to report annually on compliance with this stipulation of the law. Guidelines for coverage of detox and intensive inpatient treatments are yet to be determined.
Another supporter of the bill, Senator Dan Feltes hopes that coverage for inpatient rehab will be given the same considerations for coverage as outpatient care. The bill’s supporters believe that NH SB576 will be on New Hampshire governor, Maggie Hassan’s desk for approval before the end of January. Hassan has already voiced her backing and encouragement for this much-needed action addressing the state’s drug problem. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for our state,” She commented. In 2015, heroin and fentanyl (a synthetic opioid) overdoses caused a record high of 400 deaths across the state of New Hampshire. Such a death toll is unacceptable.
Two other related fast-track bills were proposed earlier this month as well. New Hampshire Senate Bill 447 (NH SB447) would initiate further comprehensive study of Narcan, a medicine that can temporarily stop the effects of an opioid overdose. New Hampshire Senate Bill 369 would require drug and alcohol education in public school for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
For attorney Mark McCue, the progress of these bills has been a personal victory. The reception and support of the actions is a milestone in his continuing struggle to help his family members get on the path to recovery from addiction. Regarding the insurance industry’s current approach to coverage for drug addiction treatment, McCue commented that, “It may be good business practice, but it is an unfair practice to have automatic denials.”
Senate Majority Leader, Jeb Bradley, was pleased with the decisions to fast-track these bills. Bradley expressed assurance that if successfully made into law, these proposals will help more people struggling with addiction disorders obtain coverage for the professional help that they need.