Law on mental illness coverage is suspended for second time

January 15, 1994|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Staff Writer

The state law that requires insurance companies to offer greater coverage for mental illnesses has been suspended again, less than 24 hours after a Baltimore Circuit Court judge lifted an injunction that had kept it from going into effect.

Yesterday, Chief Judge Alan M. Wilner of the Court of Special Appeals granted a new injunction against the law, pending a hearing Monday in his court.

The law requiring insurers to offer mental illness benefits comparable to those for other illnesses was to have become effective Jan. 1. Lawyers for insurers and a policyholder filed suit Dec. 28, claiming the law was vague. They later argued it also was unconstitutional.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Thomas Ward granted a temporary injunction that was lifted Thursday by Circuit Judge David Ross, who said the law was "crystal clear."

The case is scheduled for trial before Judge Ross this month, although he also may consider a motion to dismiss it, made by the attorney general's office and a lawyer for mental health advocates.

Yesterday, lawyers Charles S. Fax and James J. Doyle III, who represent the insurance companies, asked Judge Wilner to delay putting the law into effect until they could have a hearing before him.

As a result of Judge Wilner's ruling, the law was in effect for less than 24 hours. Technically, this means that those who sought treatment for mental illness late Thursday or early yesterday might be eligible for greater reimbursement for that treatment than in the past.

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