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California advocacy group endorses state mental health bill

May 18, 2012
by News release
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The California Treatment Advocacy Foundation (CalTAF) has endorsed a bill currently in the state's legislature that would make it easier for residents to get access to mental health services covered by private insurance plans.

AB 154, authored by Assemblyman Jim Beall (D-San Jose), passed the California State Assembly earlier this year and is currently under review by the state Senate. The bill broadens the mental health services covered by private insurance plans and also requires insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.

"For too long, too many people with mental illness and substance abuse problems have been unable to obtain the treatment they need and end up in public healthcare programs, emergency rooms, and state and county jails," said Phillip Greer, executive director of CalTAF.

"The passage of this bill will provide new coverage for 4.5 million people with non-severe mental illness as well as an estimated 6.3 million people annually in need of substance abuse treatment. We thank Assemblyman Beall for all his hard work on this issue and look forward to working with his colleagues in the state Senate to get this much-needed legislation passed."

Under current law California requires healthcare plans to cover treatment for some serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, autism and anorexia. Beall's bill would expand coverage to other mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. The bill also expands on new federal healthcare requirements that require group health plans with more than 50 employees to offer equal medical and mental health benefits.

CalTAF voiced its unanimous support of AB 154 at a recent meeting of its members, calling the passage of this bill "critically important as it will help people get access to the care they need and thus reduce unnecessary human suffering." Greer urges his fellow Californians to contact their state senator and voice their support for this legislation.

The California Addiction Treatment Advocacy Foundation is dedicated to improving access to effective and affordable chemical dependency treatment throughout the state. Created in 2011 by a group of concerned California-based accredited providers, CalTAF believes that through insurance reform, either voluntary or mandated, barriers to care can be eliminated, thus making it easier for individuals to get access to the treatment and professionals they need.

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