A bill making its way through the statehouse would force insurance companies to cover a broader array of mental health services, including treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Under current state law, if a company has more than 50 workers on its payroll and offers health care benefits the policies must cover treatment for "biologically-based" mental illnesses.
The bill cleared an Iowa Senate committee Monday and would require additional coverage for substance abuse treatment, eating disorders and depression. Supporters like Senator Keith Kreiman, a Democrat from Bloomfield, say it could help keep people out of prison because studies show most inmates are either addicts or have some mental health problem. "The financial costs, the moral costs of not doing this bill are so great," Kreiman says.
Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says ensuring people can more easily get substance abuse treatment will save money in the long run. "Depression causes people to drink. People who drink too much lose their jobs. That makes them more depressed. Violence is visited upon their families. They get in trouble with the law. They go to jail," Quirmback says. "We wind up having huge social costs imposed upon our society and upon our taxpayers."
But Some Republicans like Senator Dave Mulder of Sioux Center complain the move will raise insurance rates, making it difficult for businesses to continue to provide health care benefits to employees. "Are we making it so that some businesses are going to be forced out of business because they are not going to be able to continue to provide this type of coverage?" Mulder asked.
Despite that, Mulder voted for the bill in committee. The bill must be considered by yet another senate committee before it can even be debated by the full Senate.