NU Online News Service, Sept. 5, 2:34 p.m. – Alabama lawmakers are discussing bills that would require Blue Cross/Blue Shield and health maintenance organizations plans to offer mental health benefits. The state Legislature imposed that requirement on other group health plans in a law passed last year.

Earlier this year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, which provides about 80% of the state’s health insurance, claimed it was exempt from the state Mental Health Parity Act that went into effect Jan. 1. Alabama Blue said the law did not apply to it because it was not included among the categories of health plans covered.

The new bill was introduced in the House as H.B. 77 by Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, and is being considered by the Health Committee. In the Senate, a similar bill, S.B. 72, introduced by Sen. Jack Biddle III, R-Birmingham, has been sent to the Rules Committee.