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How Georgia’s new mental health law works

©Shutterstock/megaflopp
©Shutterstock/megaflopp

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 3, 2022, by Katherine Landergan: There’s a new law on the books that should make accessing treatment for mental illness and addiction much easier.

But some proponents of the new law fear that many Georgia residents may not know about the change. That means patients could continue to pay out of pocket for treatments that should be covered, or choose to forgo needed medical care entirely.

In an attempt to make sense of this new law, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke to experts to put together this guide on what it means for you.

What the new mental health law does

Proponents of the new mental health law say it signifies a sweeping change for Georgia, a state that has traditionally received very low marks for its mental health services. The law covers a lot of ground, ranging from the legality of involuntary commitment, the oversight of Georgia’s mental health services system, and service-cancelable loans for people who pursue a career in the mental health services field.

But what most Georgia residents need to know about is the so-called “parity” provision, says Kaleb McMichen, a spokesperson for Speaker David Ralston, who was the lead sponsor for the legislation. This part of the law mandates that insurance companies cover mental health services the same as they do services for physical care. Treatments for substance abuse and addiction must also be treated the same as physical care.

Here’s an example of how it should work: say a person enrolled in an insurance plan has unlimited doctor visits for a chronic condition like diabetes. Then, under the law, that plan must also offer unlimited visits for a mental health condition such as depression or obsessive compulsive disorder.

Read more from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.

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