(The Center Square) – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that would require insurance companies to cover mental health services, a move proponents say would increase access.
“Today, we take the next step, a monumental step toward a Georgia where every person receives the help they need to fight and overcome whatever personal trials that they may face,” Kemp, a Republican, said during a bill signing ceremony. “Today, we make sure that they do not fight alone.”
House Bill 1013, the Mental Health Parity Act, follows a multi-year study by the Georgia Behavioral Health Reform & Innovation Commission. Officials say the legislation incorporates the commission’s recommendations and public feedback.
“In the years since, elected officials, advocates, industry experts and caring mothers and fathers have met and worked hard on what ultimately became this piece of legislation,” Kemp said.
“Countless hours, years of research and policy discussions and the hopes of tens of thousands of Georgians went into the bill that now sits on that table,” the governor added before signing the measure. “Perhaps the greatest testament to the need for HB1013, its importance and its transformational power is the fact that at a time of great political division, this legislation passed with full bipartisan support.”
Proponents say the measure will increase patient access to care while also ensuring “mental health parity” for providers and patients. They contend it should also bolster workforce development initiatives, boost transparency and accountability for consumers and improve resources and tools for frontline responders and communities.
“The cumulative total of good that this bill does is almost immeasurable all across the state,” Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said during the bill signing ceremony. “…House Bill 1013 is not a Republican bill; it’s not a Democrat bill. This is a bill for 11 million hardworking Georgians, and this is a great day for all of us.”
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor