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State Pushes Insurance Companies To Cover Mental Health Treatments

Back in 2005, Oregon passed a law requiring insurers cover mental health the same as medical health. Now, nine years later, the Oregon Insurance Division just issued rules forcing insurers to follow that law.

When Oregon’s Mental Health Parity Act first passed, several mental health treatments weren’t well understood. For example, insurers regarded Applied Behavioral Analysis for autism as experimental and they didn’t cover it.

But this summer, a federal court in Oregon ruled Providence had to pay for the treatment and now the Oregon Insurance Division has issued rules making all insurers cover that and several other mental health treatments.

Paul Terdal has two autistic boys and is thrilled, “I do think the law was clear. And I really don’t think it should have taken this long,” he said. “But at the same time there’s been a whole lot of political pressure from the insurance industry to sort of talk back what the laws do.”

Calls and emails to several Oregon insurance companies were not immediately returned.

Two lawsuits on this issue are currently being fought in the state.