Senate Bill 1046 – Penaties for insurers who do not provide adeqate health care benefits

On Monday (8/4/14), the California Legislature approved a bill (SB 1046) that would increase penalties for insurers that do not provide adequate coverage for mental health care, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Assembly voted 70 to 0 to approve the bill, which now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown (D). Under current state and federal regulations, insurers must cover treatments for serious mental illnesses and are prohibited from imposing separate limits on mental health benefits and including higher co-payments or out-of-pocket costs for mental health treatments. SB 1046 would give the California Department of Insurance authority to issue per-day, per-patient fines for violating the mental health coverage requirements. The California Department of Managed Health Care, which supervises major group health plans, already has such authority. As State Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), the bill’s author, said, SB 1046 puts health insurers on notice that they must live up to the law or face serious penalties.

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