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State Senator

Matt Lesser

Representing Cromwell, Middletown, Newington, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield

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Sen. Lesser Presented with Legislative Leadership Award from the Keep the Promise Coalition for Leadership in Passage of the Mental Health Parity Act

MIDDLETOWN, CT – Today from the Crystal Ballroom at the Middletown Elks Club, state Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) was honored by the Keep the Promise (KTP) Coalition with the prestigious Legislative Leadership Award for leading passage of the Mental Health Parity Act and for his continued commitment to protecting the rights of people living with mental health conditions.

“Every family has a story. That’s why I’ve been so committed to erasing the stigma of mental health and substance abuse,” said Sen. Lesser, who is also the Senate chair of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee. “That’s why we fought so hard to pass mental health parity - to ensure that insurance covers diseases of the brain just like anything else. I’m incredibly grateful to the work of advocates who made this possible and shared their stories - I know without a doubt that this law will save lives.”

At the KTP Coalition’s 20th anniversary awards luncheon, the senator received the award with the House chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee state Representative Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford). State Representative Brenda Kupchick (R-Fairfield) also received the honor for her work regarding the Mental Health Parity Act as well. In a joint statement, the chairs of the KTP Coalition applauded Sen. Lesser for his leadership.

“The members of the Keep The Promise Coalition have been advocating for passage of a mental health parity bill so that the promise of equality in coverage for mental and physical health conditions would be made real,” said KTP Coalition co-chairs Kathy Flaherty and Paul Acker. “The leadership of Senator Lesser, along with Representatives Scanlon and Kupchick, on the Insurance & Real Estate Committee was instrumental to the passage of this bill. We are grateful for his support and for being a champion of this important bill.”

The law prohibits insurance companies from enforcing more inflexible limits on mental health and substance use disorder benefits than they would for medical and surgical benefits. Additionally, it requires insurance coverage of substance abuse services if required by a court and requires insurance companies to file annual reports with the state certifying that they are complying with the Mental Health Parity Act. The legislation was signed into law on July 8.

This law was necessary as Connecticut had the dubious distinction of having the largest disparities for cost in regards to mental health care in comparison to other forms of care. According to a December 2017 study by independent actuarial firm Milliman, Connecticut had some of the nation’s worst disparities for access to affordable mental health care services. Furthermore, the Milliman study discovered that patients were actually forced to use expensive, out-of-network coverage far more often for mental health and substance use disorder care than for other types of medical care due to inadequate coverage and a shortage of mental health providers.

The Keep the Promise Coalition has been dedicated to advocating for individuals living with mental health conditions since 1999. The KTP coalition was first organized 20 years ago when the state’s Legal Rights Project convened a meeting of mental health advocates discussing the United State Supreme Court decision in L.C. v Olmstead, which banned the unjustified institutionalization of individuals with disabilities, per the KTP Coalition’s website. According to KTP Coalition’s site, the coalition became the state’s leading voice on mental health issues with over 40 agencies and organizations participating in KTP Coalition.

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