Mental Health Parity And Substance Abuse Treatment Bill Clears Major Hurdle

June 07, 2007
Contact: Richard Woonacott @  (916) 319-2490

Today, Assembly Member Jim Beall, Jr.'s (D - San Jose) Bill (AB) 423 passed the Assembly Floor on a 47-32 vote and is headed for the Senate.

This bill ends discrimination against patients with mental disorders and substance abuse problems by requiring treatment and coverage of those illnesses at the same level of coverage provided for other medical illnesses.

“Mental health parity and treatment for substance abuse is long overdue in California.  It costs insurers and consumers very little and it saves lives," stated Beall.  "Many health plans do not provide coverage for mental disorders and those plans that do offer coverage impose much stricter limits on mental health care than on other medical care.”

Children whose families receive appropriate drug and alcohol treatment are less likely to remain in foster care.  Families receiving addiction treatment spent $363 less a month on regular medical care than untreated families.

After completing treatment, there is a 19% increase in employment and an 11% decrease in the number of clients who receive welfare.  And re-arrest rates dropped from 75% to 27% when inmates received addiction treatment.

Adolescent re-arrest rates decrease from 64.5% to 35.5% after one year of residential treatment.  Annual employer costs for mental illness are an estimated $23 billion in lost work days and the cost to the United States is more than $150 billion in treatment, social services and lost productivity.

“Clearly, the time has come for mental health parity in California,” exclaimed Beall.