Senator Newman’s Bill to Ensure Mental Health Coverage for All Signed by Governor Jerry Brown

Monday, July 31 2017

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 374 authored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), a measure to ensure all Californians are provided with mental health coverage.

“I’m very proud to have my first piece of legislation signed by Governor Brown and very pleased he is making mental health a priority. Mental health and substance abuse coverage is critical to keeping California families healthy,” said Senator Newman. “Too many insurance plans are not required to cover mental health services in California, and as a result, Californians with serious mental illnesses may fall through the cracks.”

SB 374 will require individual and group health insurance policies that cover mental health and substance abuse benefits to fully comply with federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity standards. Twenty percent of health insurance policies issued in California are not subject to state enforcement of MHPAEA requirements. SB 374 will give the Department of Insurance the authority to enforce these requirements, to close that gap, and to ensure that all health plans are subject to enforcement.

Under current law the Department of Managed Health Care was given authority to enforce the Federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act when it became law in 2008. As a result, only health plans under the DHMC were subject to enforcement of these federal standards and 20 percent of plans issued in California were not subject to enforcement. By allowing the Department of Insurance to also enforce MHPAEA standards, that gap will be closed.

Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which includes cities across Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino Counties.