Gov. Pritzker signs bills expanding access to mental health care

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Illinois becomes third state in the country to require insurance coverage for mental health disorders

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation Wednesday which expands access to mental health care for Illinoisans.

House Bill 2595

House Bill 2595 requires all insurers to provide comprehensive mental healthcare coverage in the state in order to improve the accessibility of quality and reliable services. In addition, it covers treatment for mental, emotional, nervous, and substance use disorders.

“Today, Illinois takes a critical step forward toward ending discrimination against people with mental health and substance use disorders—making the promise of equal access to treatment a reality,” said former U.S. Rep. and founder of The Kennedy Forum, Patrick J. Kennedy. “With his signature, Gov. Pritzker makes Illinois a national leader in holding insurers accountable for following nationally recognized clinical standards of care.” 

The bill also requires the Illinois Department of Insurance to file a joint report on mental, emotional, nervous, or substance use condition parity to the General Assembly no later than Jan. 1, 2022.

“The Governor’s signing of HB 2595 further strengthens Illinois’ commitment to ensure consumer access to medically necessary treatment of mental, emotional, nervous, or substance use disorders or conditions,” said Dana Popish Severinghaus, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance. “The Illinois Department of Insurance was the first state insurance department to administer targeted mental health market conduct exams for companies selling health plans on the ACA Marketplace.  We will continue to lead by example to protect Illinoisans, reduce barriers to care, and achieve mental health and substance use disorder parity.”

 House Bill 2595 is effective Jan. 1, 2023.

House Bill 2784

House Bill 2784 requires 911 call center operators to coordinate with mobile mental and behavioral health services from the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health (DMH) when a person is dispatched through a 911 system.

“Thank you, Gov. Pritzker, for signing HB 2784. This new law will provide all Illinois residents with the community care and compassion they need when dealing with mental and behavioral health emergencies,” said Grace B. Hou, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services. ” IDHS and our Division of Mental Health (DMH) will provide training and guidance to mobile health units and police officers, so they are equipped and ready to respond to these extremely important emergencies and life events.” 

DMH helps people with mental illness recover and fully participate in community life. The law requires DMH to provide guidance on coordinating mobile units in case of a person experiencing a crisis. In addition, regional advisory committees will be formed in each Emergency Medical Service (EMS) region to advise on mental health emergency response systems. The law requires police officers to undergo specialized training to help them respond to mental health emergencies more effectively.

“It’s painful to imagine experiencing a mental health crisis and being put in the care of someone who doesn’t have proper training instead of being connected with someone that can actually provide the proper help that is so desperately needed,” said State Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago). “That often causes a lot of anger and frustration during an already vulnerable situation. Today, with the signing of House Bill 2784, we can feel confident that people who are going through a mental health emergency will be treated by mental and behavioral health professionals. With policies like this, Illinois is leading the country in building treatment over trauma.”

House Bill 2784 goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

This story will be updated.

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