Health & Wellness

Press Releases

New Jersey Psychologists Fight to End Unlawful Practices of Major Health Insurance Plans

 

 

The New Jersey Psychological Association (NJPA), which represents approximately 2,000 psychologists throughout the state, has filed a lawsuit in conjunction with two patient co-plaintiffs against Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc. and Magellan Health Services. The suit seeks a declaration that Horizon and Magellan have violated patient confidentiality rights and breached the terms of their plan documents by systematically and wrongfully requiring psychologists to disclose confidential patient information to secure authorization for payment for mental health treatment.

 

The suit alleges that defendants’ practices not only contradict the plan documents of the State Health Benefits Plan, the largest insurance plan in the state, but also violate state and federal laws protecting patient privacy.  NJPA filed the suit to preserve and protect the rights of its members and its members’ patients, who are directly affected by Horizon’s and Magellan’s actions. 

“The skill and support of my psychologist were crucial when I was dealing with a deeply personal and challenging time in my life,” said Steven Sargese, a retired law enforcement officer in Essex County and a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit.  “Unfortunately, my health plan repeatedly denied the full course of treatment recommended by my psychologist.  I’m determined to stand up for people who need mental health services and cannot stand up for themselves.”

Sign Up for E-News

“The insurance companies are harming the very people they're supposed to help and make it increasingly difficult for us to help these individuals lead productive and healthy lives,” said New Jersey Psychological Association President Sharon Ryan Montgomery, PsyD. “They put us between a rock and a hard place by requiring psychologists to violate patient confidentiality and disclosing patients’ innermost thoughts and feelings or denying authorization that limits patients’ access to care. Their actions are in direct conflict with their stated mission of improving health and can be very debilitating for patients and society as a whole.”

Under the New Jersey Practicing Psychology Licensing Act, psychologists are prohibited from disclosing confidential communications, notes, or records as defined in the Act.  Under the federal HIPAA Privacy Rule, psychologists may only provide the minimum patient information necessary to make coverage, benefit and payment determinations.

Similarly, plan documents relating to the State Health Benefits Plan, called NJ Direct, state that only the minimum necessary information will be requested when making treatment and payment decisions. Further, the State Health Benefits Plan is subject to state and federal privacy laws designed to protect the disclosure of patient health information.

“The American Psychological Association Practice Organization applauds the NJPA for undertaking this battle on behalf of its members and the patients they serve,” said Executive Director for Professional Practice Katherine C. Nordal, PhD.  “Confidentiality is vital to the patient-provider relationship, and any action that undermines patient privacy, especially in violation of the law, must be addressed.”

In addition to the lawsuit against Horizon and Magellan, NJPA is further upholding its commitment to psychologists and patients by participating in several class-action lawsuits against Horizon, Aetna and Cigna. The suits challenge the unlawful practice of systematically under-paying out-of-network healthcare providers for their services by knowingly relying on a faulty database to determine reimbursement rates.

About NJPA

The New Jersey Psychological Association (NJPA) is a private, not-for-profit, professional organization representing approximately 2,000 psychologists throughout the state.  Since its establishment in 1931, NJPA has been committed to its mission of advancing psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health and human welfare. The NJPA has continued to be instrumental in protecting patient privacy, maintaining the standards of practice, and educating the public about the important role of psychology in health, mental health and as a part of ongoing wellness.  For more information about NJPA please visit: www.PsychologyNJ.org.  

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

Nutley Police Make Arrest In Instagram School Threat Case

February 25, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ — The Nutley Police Department made an arrest in the case of an Instagram video post. An 18-year-old resident was charged with Third Degree False Public Alarm.

Joseph Rafanello, a senior at Nutley High School, was arrested and taken to Essex County Jail. The arrest followed a full investigation by the police.

Chief Thomas Strumolo stated that ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_f1e8b21af9d26c31d2e7_unnamed__8_

Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

West Orange High School (Tarnoff Cafeteria), West Orange

44th Annual Orange West Orange UNICO Sports ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Carousel_image_f7d9574673b2c2041627_unnamed__4_

Sun, February 25, 12:00 PM

AMC Essex Green, West Orange

The 2018 West Orange Classic Film Festival

Arts & Entertainment

Can Frelinghuysen At Least Stand with Working Families On His Way Out?

February 25, 2018

On January 29, Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen announced his decision to retire.  Presumably he is now free to vote his conscience rather than blindly go along with his party’s agenda against the interests of the working class in America.

On February 14, he voted to support a bill that allows usurious credit card rates to apply when loans are sold from one institution to another.

Free Cardiac and Concussion Screenings for Young Athletes

February 22, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Matthew J. Morahan III Health Assessment Center for Athletes (MJM) at RWJBarnabas Health will provide free cardiac and concussion baseline screenings to young athletes on Saturday, March 3, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at South Mountain Recreation Complex, Codey Arena, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ.

When preliminary testing to identify serious cardiac ...

Shouts of Racial Slurs During "Black Panther" Bring Police to Sparta Theatre

February 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night because of a woman shouting slurs in a screening of Black Panther.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including “look at these ‘n-word’” and “can you believe these ...

Let the Games Begin

I am truly awed by the Olympics.  Watching these superb young athletes on TV inspires me to renew my membership to the gym and pursue my lifelong dream of taking home the gold.  

 

The problem is that in my deluded head, I can see actually see myself standing atop the podium.  I am wrapped in a puffy designer ski coat with a huge piece of bling slung around my neck ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...