(a) The Legislature finds the following:
(1) Mental illness affects many citizens of this state each year, resulting in anguish, grief, desperation, fear, isolation, and a sense of hopelessness of significant levels among victims and families.
(2) Consequences of mental illness include the significant expenditures of public operating funds for treatment and losses of millions of dollars by businesses in the state in accidents, absenteeism, nonproductivity, and turnover. Excessive stress and anxiety and other forms of mental illness clearly contribute to general health problems and costs.
(3) Typical health coverage in this state by some insurers provides individuals and affected families of mental illness with nonexistent or limited benefits compared to provisions for other illnesses.
(4) Experience in this state and several other states demonstrates that the risk of mental illness can be insured at reasonable additional cost, provided strict controls on quality and utilization of treatment are applied.
(b) The Legislature declares that the following is the policy of this state:
(1) To promote equitable and nondiscriminatory health coverage benefits for all forms of illness including mental and emotional disorders that are of significant consequence to the health of people of the state and that can be treated in a cost-effective manner.
(2) To ensure that victims of mental and other illnesses have access to and choice of appropriate treatment at the earliest point of illness in the least restrictive settings.
(3) To ensure that costs of treatment of mental illness are supported through an equitable combination of public and private responsibilities.