Governor Carney signs “Mental Health Parity” Legislation

Senate Bill 230 addresses first recommendation of Behavioral Health Consortium’s Action Plan

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 230 beside members of the General Assembly, Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long and the Behavioral Health Consortium, and other mental health and addiction advocates.

“I am proud to sign this bill into law, a concrete step to assist Delawareans dealing every day with mental illness and drug and alcohol dependency,” said Governor John Carney. “This legislation recognizes that mental health and drug or alcohol dependency benefits should be treated the same as medical benefits. Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long for her leadership on this issue with the Behavioral Health Consortium, and to all of the advocates who helped with this legislation.”

Senate Bill 230, also known as Mental Health Parity, is a critical step to eliminating coverage discrimination in Delaware and mandating certain reporting requirements that will allow the state to determine if health insurance carriers and Medicaid managed care organizations are applying treatment limitations which may prevent someone from accessing care for their addiction or mental illness. The legislation will help ensure compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, passed by United States Congress in 2008, in order to ensure fair access to behavioral health treatment and making sure that those who need help can receive it.

“For far too long, people struggling with addiction and mental illness have not been treated fairly when it comes to getting the quality health care they need and deserve,” said Lt. Governor Hall-Long. “That ends now. This legislation is an important step to knocking down the barriers to treatment and eliminating stigma. I am thrilled we are enacting the first recommendation of the Behavioral Health Consortium’s Three Year Action Plan today.”

Lt. Governor Hall-Long, and members of the consortium, worked closely with former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy on this legislation.

“I applaud Governor Carney for signing Senate Bill 230, which represents a major step forward in ending coverage discrimination against those with mental health and addiction challenges in Delaware,” said Patrick Kennedy, Founder of the Kennedy Forum. “Make no mistake: This new law will save lives. By forcing health plans to submit proof of their compliance with parity laws, Senate Bill 230 shifts the burden back to insurance companies and away from families in crisis. I would particularly like to thank Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long, whom I worked closely with on this bill, for her outstanding leadership, as well as Representative Bentz, Senator Townsend, and Senator Henry for helping to expand access to treatment.”

Senate Bill 230 requires health insurance issuers to complete an initial analysis, and submit a report to the Department of Insurance and the Delaware Health Information Network.

“Mental health and substance abuse disorders are among the greatest public health challenges that our country and our state face,” said Senator Bryan Townsend, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 230. “It’s important for our entire health care system, from public policy to commercial insurance, to respond to that challenge by demonstrating that we value mental health just as much as physical health and that parity is a standard we take seriously in Delaware. I’m thankful to the Lt. Governor for her advocacy on this issue and to Gov. Carney for signing this bill into law.”

“The Behavioral Health Consortium gives us the opportunity to take a deep dive into Delaware’s challenges as they relate to behavioral and mental health. I thank Lt. Gov Hall-Long for her leadership on these issues,” said Representative David Bentz. “Senate Bill 230 was a collaborative effort that increases reporting of insurance coverage for mental and behavioral health in an effort to help us get a clear picture of the care in our state. Addiction is a disease – like cancer or heart disease – and we should be doing what we can to combat it and help those who struggle.”

Stakeholders, such as the Ability Network of Delaware and NAMI Delaware, were also heavily involved in the passage of this legislation.

“Ultimately, real parity breaks down the final barrier to stigma,” said Carolyn Petrak, Associate Executive Director of the Ability Network of Delaware.  “When insurers cover mental health and substance use disorders in an unbiased measure and those seeking treatment need not weigh the cost maybe then, the barriers that stigma creates start to crumble.”

“Already there is significant stigma about mental health conditions. Only about half of the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental illness seek treatment each year,” said Anne Slease, Director of Advocacy & Education for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Delaware. “Overcoming the stigma is a big obstacle. Paying the bill shouldn’t have to be.”

Click HERE for photos from the bill signing.

 

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UPDATE – Tuesday and Wednesday: Governor Carney To Sign 29 Bills Into Law

WILMINGTON, Del. – On Tuesday, August 28 and Wednesday, August 29, Governor Carney will sign 29 pieces of legislation from the 149th General Assembly into law surrounded by members of the General Assembly and advocates from across the state. A recap of this year’s Legislative Session can be found at de.gov/recap. Bill signing times have been updated for Tuesday, August 28 at the Delaware Public Archives. A full schedule can be found below.

Media planning to attend the signings please RSVP to Emily David (emily.david@delaware.gov) for additional information.

 

TUESDAY: Bill Signing Ceremonies

Bill Signing Ceremony for House Bill 425 and House Bill 441

WHAT:        Governor Carney will sign House Bill 425 and House Bill 441, pieces of legislation related to prescription drugs.

WHO:           Governor Carney

Representative Andria Bennett

Representative William Carson

Erik Mabus, Owner, Bayard Pharmacy

WHEN:        Tuesday, August 28, 2018

9:30 a.m.

WHERE:      Bayard Pharmacy

202 W. Loockerman Street

Dover, DE 19904

 

 

*UPDATED* Bill Signings at Delaware Public Archives

WHAT:          Governor Carney will sign the following legislation. Please note all times are approximate and subject to change. Prime sponsors are listed in parentheses:

11:00 a.m. –  House Bill 437 (Representative David Wilson)

11:15 a.m. –  House Bill 298 (Representative Charles Postles)

11:45 a.m. –  Senate Bill 266 (Senator Anthony Delcollo)

12:00 p.m. –  House Bill 374 (Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf)

12:15 p.m. –  House Bill 380 (Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf)

12:30 p.m. –  House Bill 476 (Representative Trey Paradee)

12:45 p.m. –  House Bill 426 (Representative Trey Paradee)

WHO:            Governor Carney

Members of the General Assembly

Advocates

WHEN:          Tuesday, August 28, 2018

11:00 a.m.

WHERE:       Delaware Public Archives

121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd North

Dover, Delaware 19901

 

 

WEDNESDAY: Bill Signing Ceremonies

Bill Signings at the Carvel Building Auditorium

WHAT:          Governor Carney will sign the following legislation. Please note all times are approximate and subject to change. Prime sponsors are listed in parentheses.

9:30 a.m. – House Bill 332 (Representative Stephanie T. Bolden)

9:45 a.m. – Senate Bill 172 (Senator David Sokola)

10:00 a.m. – Senate Bill 169 (Senator Nicole Poore)

10:15 a.m. – Senate Bill 212 (Senator Nicole Poore)

10:30 a.m. – House Bill 368 (Representative John Viola)

11:00 a.m. – Senate Bill 227 (Senator Bryan Townsend)

11:15 a.m. – Senate Bill 157 (Senator Bryan Townsend)

11:30 a.m. – Senate Bill 197 (Senator Gregory Lavelle)

1:30 p.m. – House Bill 292 (Representative Earl Jaques)

1:45 p.m. – House Bill 456 (Representative Earl Jaques)

2:00 p.m. – Senate Bill 11 & Senate Bill 7 (Senator Harris McDowell)

2:15 p.m. – House Bill 360 (Representative Helene Keeley)

2:30 p.m. – House Bill 386 (Representative Paul Baumbach)

2:45 p.m. – House Bill 401 (Representative Debra Heffernan)

3:00 p.m. – Senate Bill 113 (Senator Harris McDowell)

3:30 p.m. – House Bill 412 (Representative Bryon Short)

3:45 p.m. – House Bill 438 (Representative Charles Potter Jr.)

4:00 p.m. – Senate Bill 230 (Senator Bryan Townsend)

WHO:            Governor Carney

Members of the General Assembly

Advocates

WHEN:          Wednesday, August 29, 2018

9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Break between 12:00 and 1:30 p.m.

WHERE:       Carvel Building Auditorium, 2nd Floor

820 North French Street

Wilmington, Delaware 19801

 


Governor Carney Signs 12-Week Paid Parental Leave Into Law

Policy to begin April 1, 2019

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney on Saturday signed House Bill 3 into law surrounded by members of the General Assembly, educators and advocates. This legislation offers state workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child under the age of six. With this legislation, Delaware becomes the sixth state in the nation to offer paid parental leave to public workers.

“Today I was proud to stand beside state workers, members of the General Assembly and advocates to make this a reality for Delaware families,” said Governor John Carney. “Our state employees deserve to spend time with their families when their children are born. It builds strong bonds, and has great health advantages. This benefit will help us maintain and strengthen our workforce, attracting new employees. Thank you to everyone who helped Delaware lead on leave.”

Paid Parental Leave bill signingFull-time state workers, including educators, would be eligible for 12 weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave after one year of employment. Paid parental leave will go into effect for Delaware workers on April 1, 2019.

“I have been committed to this issue for the past three years, and I am so excited to see this become a reality. Paid parental leave is going to be a game-changer for our state employees and our workforce,” said Representative Debra Heffernan. “The research continues to show that paid parental leave is an essential support system. It’s good for parents, good for kids and good for workplaces, promoting morale and job security. I firmly believe that the earliest early childhood education is when children are babies – and they learn from their parents – so I am so happy to see Governor Carney sign House Bill 3 into law.”

“This bill is a big, big deal,” said Senator Nicole Poore. “As a mom of three, I know how important it is to have time at home with a newborn child. Besides the mountain of scientific evidence pointing to the importance of those first few months, I know first-hand that the emotional and physical benefits of having time to recover and be with family are immeasurable. Delaware families deserve that time, and it makes me incredibly proud to be part of the team of lawmakers that delivered that to state employees today.”

“The addition of a new child is a very special time in an employee’s life, and our state recognizes the great benefits for the child and parents resulting from paid parental leave,” said Saundra Ross Johnson, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Human Resources. “Paid parental leave also delivers a competitive edge for attracting, recruiting and retaining talented employees as they recognize that Delaware cares and values families.”

“We are thankful that the General Assembly passed House Bill 3 and that the Governor made it a priority and is signing it into law today,” said Mike Matthews, President, Delaware State Education Association. “This paid parental leave gives our educators and state workers the time at home needed to recover from child birth and to care for and bond with their newborns or newly adopted children. State employees will no longer need to choose between taking care of a new child and being able to put food on the table or paying the bills. And, while this legislation supports new parents it also helps in the recruitment and retention of educators and state workers.”

“House Bill 3 will give state employees the freedom to have families on their own schedule. It gives families the time to bond with their newest member without the worry of financial stress that often comes with not having enough sick or annual leave,” said Michael Begatto, Executive Director of Council 81 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “House Bill 3 will help retain good employees and it is a win for the state and for state employees both.”

Click here for photos from the bill signing.

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Governor Carney Signs “Red Flag” Legislation

HS 1 for HB 222 allows courts to issue a lethal violence protection order when citizens pose a danger to self or others

DOVER, Del. – On Wednesday, Governor John Carney signed House Substitute 1 for HB 222 into law surrounded by members of the General Assembly of both parties, law enforcement, and advocates for gun safety. This legislation, sponsored by Representative David Bentz, allows a court to issue a lethal violence protection order in cases where a family member or law enforcement officer can show that the respondent poses a danger to self or others by owning, possessing, controlling, purchasing or receiving a firearm.

“This new legislation is another tool to help law enforcement and our community confront gun violence,” said Governor John Carney. “One piece of legislation alone will not solve the problem of gun violence, but with a comprehensive approach, along with efforts to strengthen security in our schools, we can make a difference. We’ve made great progress this legislative session and I would like to thank members of the General Assembly and advocates for their tireless work on this issue.”

This bill in the latest in a package of gun safety measures Governor Carney has signed into law this legislative session, including the Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act, toughening penalties around straw purchases, and banning “bump stocks” in the state.

“Red flag bills are significant components of gun safety reform, and I am so proud that Delaware has led in this effort this year with HS 1 for HB 222. We have taken a significant step forward to protect public safety and hopefully prevent some of these tragic instances of gun violence,” said Representative David Bentz. “While we may not be able to stop every horrific incident, a lethal violence protective order will reduce access to guns and empower citizens and law enforcement to intervene if a loved one presents a danger to themselves or others. Delaware has the opportunity to be model for the entire country with this legislation and it has been an honor to drive the initiative forward.”

 

“This is an example of a gun bill that everyone should be able to support,” said Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry. “There is no clearer sign that somebody shouldn’t have a gun than a family member, or a member of law enforcement, saying they might hurt themselves or another. HB 222 will save lives without compromising due process. I applaud Rep. Bentz for the yeoman’s work he’s done building consensus around this common-sense reform.”

“I am very pleased to see this measure pass. This proposal accomplished two important goals: protecting the due process rights of Delawareans and providing people recourse whenever they feel immediately threatened and there is strong evidence that a person is a threat,” said Senator Anthony Delcollo. “This bill provides robust protections for civil rights while empowering law enforcement to act for the safety or our community. Thank you to Governor Carney and Representative Bentz for working with me to keep Delawareans safe and preserve these important constitutional protections.”

“This is the type of law that has been proven to save lives in other states,” said Attorney General Matt Denn. “It will save lives here, too.”

“Keeping firearms out of dangerous hands is essential to our public safety,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “Owning and using guns is a responsibility that must be taken seriously and with caution. When that responsibility is at risk, we have to do all we can to protect those individuals from harming their self or others. Thank you to Rep. Bentz and the members of the General Assembly for supporting this measure and making Delaware safer.”

“In response to demands from Americans to stop gun violence, lawmakers in states across the country are finding the courage to pass bills that can save lives,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords. “If we’re serious about saving lives, we must continue to be serious about giving families and law enforcement officials the tools they need to prevent people at risk of harming themselves or others from accessing guns. Leaders in Delaware understand this and it’s why they’ve worked tirelessly with gun prevention advocates to sign this legislation into law. I applaud Governor Carney and the Delaware legislature for demonstrating the courage to show Congress and the rest of the country how we can take responsible steps to help keep guns out of the hands of people who are experiencing a crisis.”

“The significance of the bipartisan support for HB 222 cannot be overstated,” said Dennis Greenhouse, chair of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Legislative Fund. “This law passed through the entire General Assembly without a single vote against it, with co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. That is a testament to how hard Rep. David Bentz worked in support of this bill, and he did work tirelessly to bring people together and to craft truly meaningful legislation. We cannot thank him enough. Lethal Violence Protection Orders will protect our family members, our friends and our neighbors in their most vulnerable moments. In just the past few weeks, new research has shown that states that enact Red Flag laws see significant decreases in gun-related suicides. This is what we mean when we talk about common-sense gun violence legislation — and this law will save lives in Delaware.”

“This bill strengthens our current state law by creating a mechanism to temporarily prohibit individuals that pose an immediate threat of harm to themselves or others from possessing or purchasing firearms,” said Robert Coupe, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security. “Allowing law enforcement officers to request an emergency lethal violence protective order through the Justice of the Peace Court creates a process that can be quickly utilized in emergency situations thus increasing public safety.”

“Today is a momentous occasion. This Red Flag bill signing demonstrates that Delaware continues to lead the way across the country on common sense gun policies,” said Sarah Stowens, volunteer leader with the Delaware chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We could not be more proud of Governor Carney and lawmakers in the First State for making a serious commitment to gun safety and taking a critical step toward protecting our communities from gun violence.”

Learn more about Governor Carney’s call for comprehensive gun safety in Delaware.

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Learn more about Governor Carney’s call for comprehensive gun safety in Delaware.

Click here to watch video from the bill signing.

Click here for photos from the bill signing.


Governor Carney’s Statement on Bump Stock Ban

DOVER, Del.Governor John Carney on Thursday issued the following statement after signing legislation to ban bump stock devices in Delaware:

“Delaware has made progress in strengthening our gun safety laws this legislative session with the support of students and advocates across the state, and today is no exception. By signing this bill into law, we are saying that there is no place in Delaware for bump stocks and other devices that are used to increase the rate of fire of semiautomatic weapons, making these weapons even more potentially deadly. This ban is one piece in a package of comprehensive gun safety legislation that will help us protect Delawareans. I want to thank Representative Longhurst for her leadership on this issue, and members of the General Assembly of both parties for coming together to protect our communities.”

Learn more about Governor Carney’s call for comprehensive gun safety reform.

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