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August 20, 2013

Re:    Governor vetoes bill requiring SHBP coverage for alcoholism, other substance use disorders

Dear Mayor,

The Governor vetoed S-1253/A-1665, which required the State Health Benefits Commission and School Employee Health Benefits Commission to provide coverage for the treatment of alcoholism and other substance-use disorder as well as disorders that are included in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and are not a biologically-based mental illnesses under same terms and conditions as for other diseases or illnesses.  In his veto message, Governor Christie noted that both State Health Benefit designs commissions are reviewing mental health coverage as well as other changes to the health plans offered in calendar year 2014.  The Governor has been advised that the School Employee Health Benefits Commission (SEHBP) “has come to agreement on a number of changes to the health plans to be offered in 2014 and the SEHBP will provide the same coverage for mental health disorders as for physical disorders.  Unfortunately, the SHBP design committee has not yet reached any similar agreement on changes to their health plans for 2014.”  The Governor further noted that while the bill was well intended it would limit the role of the design committees and upset the deliberate balance and independence envisioned when creating the design committees.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director





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