NAMI Illinois Applauds Pritzker Administration

for Leadership on Mental Health Parity 

July 22, 2020 

NAMI Illinois commends Governor J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Dept. of Insurance Director Robert Muriel for their recent actions to enforce parity laws that ensure mental health and substance abuse disorder get the same high-quality treatment as physical illness. On July 15, Governor Pritzker announced that five Illinois health insurance carriers had been fined more than $2 million for violating these laws. 

“During a time when more people than ever need support, proactive leadership by Governor Pritzker and the Department of Insurance has made it clear that parity is the backbone of a high quality, equitable healthcare system,” said Hugh Brady, Public Policy Chair for NAMI Illinois, a statewide grassroots network of mental health supporters. “Dozens of legislators, advocates, and industry partners worked for years to ensure that Illinois has the nation’s strongest parity laws. We are grateful that our leaders recognize that goods laws only work if they are fairly enforced.” 

Illinois statute requires insurers to treat mental illness and substance abuse no differently than any other illness, and prohibit higher deductibles, decreased lifetime caps, or limitations on approved medication lists, pre-authorization requirements, or access to provider networks. The Illinois Department of Insurance issued fines for the following violations. 

– CIGNA Healthcare paid $582,000 for not allowing legally required exceptions to its step therapy policies regarding prescriptions and for failing to use best practice medical necessity guidelines. 

– UnitedHealthcare paid $550,000 for violations regarding prior authorization. 

– CIGNA Health & Life paid $418,000 for imposing step therapy requirements for anti-depressants. 

– HCSC paid $325,000 for requiring prior authorization for medications to help fight substance use 

– Celtic paid $208,000 for failing to verify that it was in compliance with parity requirements. 

In addition to the fines, all five companies have agreed that they will comply with parity regulations in the future, and to cooperate with Illinois Department of Insurance follow up examinations to ensure that companies have taken action to prevent future violations. 

For more information, contact 

Hugh Brady, NAMI Illinois Public Policy Chair, 847 991-1863 or bradyhugh@aol.com 

Andy Wade, NAMI Illinois Executive Director, 773 606-9827 or AndyWade@namiillinois.org 

NAMI Illinois is the Illinois affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI is the nation’s largest grass roots mental health advocacy and support organization. There are 20 local NAMI chapters in Illinois, each dedicated to providing support, advocacy and education to the many, many thousands of people whose lives are affected by mental illnesses.