Thank You Governor Newsom for Signing SB 855
SB 855 is a major breakthrough
It expands access to mental health care and addiction treatment services
The National Union of Healthcare Workers and its nearly 5,000 mental health clinicians commend Governor Gavin Newsom for signing SB 855 into law. Governor Newsom showed once again that he is a champion for equal access to health care by furthering his stated goal of improving the accessibility and quality of mental health and substance use disorder services for all Californians.
We also commend State Senator Scott Wiener for drafting the legislation and shepherding it through the Legislature.
SB 855 is a major breakthrough for expanding access to mental health care and addiction treatment services. This law closes serious loopholes in California’s Mental Health Parity Act, and makes California the leader in achieving real parity for mental health care.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers partnered with State Senator Wiener and mental health advocacy organizations, including the Kennedy Forum and the Steinberg Institute, on SB 855 because our members who provide mental health therapy have seen firsthand how private insurers routinely deny Californians the mental health and addiction treatment services that are promised in their policies. In many cases, Californians have actually had to give up their private insurance and go on taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal simply to get care.
At a moment when the need for mental health and addiction treatment services has never been greater, our state leaders have taken action that will help countless Californians finally access the care they need.
As Governor Newsom said when signing the bill, this is a good step toward mental health parity but there is more work to be done. We look forward to partnering with the governor next year to make further progress.
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What SB 855 Does
SB 855 closes serious loopholes in California’s Mental Health Parity Act, and makes California the leader in achieving real parity for mental health care.
- SB 855 requires insurers to provide medically necessary care for all mental health and substance use disorders.
- SB 855 defines medically necessary care for mental health and substance use disorders so services must meet generally accepted standards of care.
- SB 855 requires that when patients can’t access timely, nearby care in-network, insurers must cover needed care out-of-network.
These and other reforms in SB 855 make access to behavioral health care the same as access to physical health care, expands the availability of behavioral health services, and gives patients and their providers strong tools to hold insurers accountable for equal coverage.