Senator Newman’s Bill to Ensure Mental Health Coverage for All Passes California State Senate

SB 374 Would Allow Department of Insurance to enforce MHPAEA standards

Monday, April 24 2017

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – The California State Senate today passed Senate Bill (SB) 374 authored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), a measure to ensure all Californians are provided with mental health coverage.

“Mental health and substance abuse coverage is critical to keeping California families healthy and safe,” said Senator Josh Newman. “Too many insurance plans are not required to cover mental health services in California, and as a result, Californians with serious mental illnesses are falling through the cracks. SB 374 is one critical step to increase mental health coverage and ensure all Californians are healthy.”

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. This bill would give the Department of Insurance the authority to enforce these requirements, to close that gap, and to ensure that all health plans would be 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.