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New mental health law takes effect | News

ATLANTA — Georgia’s new mental health parity law took effect Friday, July 1.

Under the state’s new law, Georgia health insurers should cowl mental health therapy on the identical stage they cowl bodily illnesses

“Parity kicks in immediately,” Rep. Todd Jones, R-South Forsyth, mentioned concerning the new law’s July 1 begin date.

Jones, together with Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, co-sponsored the omnibus invoice within the state House of Representatives earlier this yr.

“Georgia families hopefully have a greater opportunity to receive treatment they’re entitled to,” Oliver mentioned of the change launched by the brand new parity law.

“Folks that have not been getting adequate treatment: new funding is coming, new attention is coming,” Oliver mentioned.

Oliver – together with a number of different mental health advocates – identified that Georgians can report suspected parity violations to the state insurance coverage division.

Georgians’ stories about their experiences can be key to creating certain the law is enforced, Oliver mentioned.

Georgia’s new mental health law sends the message that “mental health matters and is just as important as your physical health,” Kim Jones, govt director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Georgia, mentioned.

To clarify mental health parity, Jones gave the instance of a health insurer that provides out-of-network protection for pressing medical providers.

That insurer should additionally cowl out-of-network pressing mental health and substance use therapy underneath the parity rule, Jones defined.

The Georgia insurance coverage division will quickly rent a brand new mental health parity officer to assist oversee the law, Weston Burleson, director of communications for the insurance coverage division, mentioned.

Down the road, the division will accumulate and publish detailed details about how health insurers carry out on mental health parity, Burleson added.

The mental health law additionally units up a brand new MATCH (Multi-Agency Treatment for Children) group.

The group will begin assembly quickly and look fastidiously on the downside of Georgia youngsters in state custody who lack secure placements, Oliver mentioned.  

“The issue of emergency placement for these children needs a lot of attention,” Oliver mentioned, noting that a few of these youngsters are staying in lodges or workplaces.

The new law additionally helps arrange mental health co-responder applications, Oliver mentioned, with funds supplied by the FY 2023 price range.

Co-responder applications pair mental health professionals with law enforcement officers to assist reply to mental health and substance use crises. The applications usually present follow-up providers as properly.

Later this yr, the state will solicit proposals from communities that wish to arrange assisted outpatient therapy applications. The new mental health law gives for 5 such applications on a “pilot” foundation.

In these applications, courts – working with group mental health and law enforcement companies – can require individuals to get therapy for mental health and substance use problems.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s mental health fee is planning one other spherical of suggestions and sub-committees are assembly month-to-month, Oliver mentioned.

And the mental health fee is protecting a detailed eye on the progress of the brand new law’s provisions.

“There’s a lot of work going to make sure to ensure that our oversight creates a successful implementation,” Oliver mentioned.  

This story is on the market by a information partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a challenge of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

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