Senate Health Committee Passes Senator Cortese’s SB 999 to Reform Mental Health and Addiction Recovery

The Senate Health Committee passed life-saving legislation by Senator Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley) today that will secure essential treatment access for individuals battling mental health and substance use disorders.

Insurance companies routinely disregard medical advice and enlist unqualified doctors to deny mental health and substance abuse treatment to save money on lifesaving treatment. As a result, patients can relapse and die. SB 999, the California Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Patient Safety and Fairness Act, will make sure that treatments for substance use disorders align with the standards set by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. It guarantees patients the right to quick and proper treatment reviews and prevents decisions based on profit by requiring an explanation for any denied treatment.

“By demanding accountability and fairness from insurance companies, SB 999 is a lifeline for people in dire need of treatment. This bill will save lives,” said Senator Cortese (D-San Jose). “It's time to prioritize patients over profits. Everyone deserves the opportunity to recover fully from substance abuse and lead a productive life.”

SB 999 is jointly sponsored by the Steinberg Institute, the Kennedy Forum, the Summit Estate Recovery Center, the California Consortium of Addiction Professionals, and the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

“Today in California care prescribed by substance use treatment professionals is being denied by reviewers who aren’t trained in substance use care,” said Karen Larsen, CEO of the Steinberg Institute. “This creates a life-threatening barrier to recovery for far too many people. SB 999 ensures that decisions are made by those with the appropriate expertise, ultimately saving lives by getting people the care they need.”

“Despite strong existing consumer health care laws, Californians are at the mercy of reviewers without proper training who review their requests for care coverage for substance use disorders,” said Rebecca Bagley, President and CEO of The Kennedy Forum. “SB 999 ensures the expertise of those reviewing health plan claims rises to the quality and experience of the providers treating them. In the midst of an addiction crisis, Californians deserve no less.”

Senator Dave Cortese represents Senate District 15, which encompasses San Jose and much of Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley. Visit Senator Cortese’s website: