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Georgia lawmakers reform substance abuse, mental health through Parity Bill

Georgia lawmakers reform substance abuse, mental health through parity bill
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 2:15 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - House Bill 1013, among other things, will require insurance companies to cover mental health illnesses the same way the company would treat physical injuries.

“Over ten years later, there is no clear process in the state of Georgia for Georgians who feel their right to parity has been violated,” said Susan Gallagher, Director of New Horizons Behavioral Health. “There is no recourse for them.”

House Bill 1013, known as the Parity Bill, addresses that issue specifically - requiring insurers to insure mental illness and substance abuse issues with the same coverage as physical health.

“A lot of time the injuries that we have, that our citizens have because of mental health concerns and as or more difficult than the physical injuries,” said Georgia Senator Randy Robertson.

Senator Robertson says the bill will also increase the number of mental health professionals across the state.

Director of New Horizon’s Behavioral Health, Susan Gallagher, says mental health providers were also impacted by the Great Resignation of 2021 - leaving many open position across the state.

“Well it will help with training with mental health professionals, so that’s one thing that the bill does,” said Gallagher.

The component of the bill Gallagher and Senator Robertson says will be most impactful is the portion of the bill that allows for co-responders - behavioral health professionals that assist law enforcement on mental health related calls.

“When law enforcement is called to an emergency and its really a behavioral health crisis or substance use crisis and if a mental health professional can be there in that instance and deescalate the situation, we may be able to see people get treatment instead of arrested.”

Senator Robertson says the bill has just gotten to the senate where they will dissect all the components of the bill to make sure the programs this bill will create will use tax payer dollars wisely.

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