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Amid pandemic hardship, two new laws expand mental health coverage

By Quinci LeGardye | California Black Media 

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two bills into law that expand mental health coverage in California. 

“The bills I am signing today will help Californians access the behavioral health services they need to recover,” Gov. Newsom said. “Earlier this year, I pledged to put these critical services within reach of more Californians, through reforming our Mental Health Services Act and laws that allow loved ones and service providers to ask courts to compel those who need treatment into community-based outpatient care. Today, we do just that.”

SB 855 passed through the state legislature on the last day of the session and was signed into law Sept. 25. The bill requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment deemed medically necessary. 

“It’s time for every Californian to have access to comprehensive and preventative mental and physical health care. SB 855 is a big step toward ensuring that in California, mental health is taken as seriously as physical health. It’s time for insurance companies to fully cover this essential treatment,” said State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).