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New Illinois laws will require insurance coverage for mental health disorders, expand access to mental healthcare

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CHICAGO (WREX) — Illinois has taken another step in expanding access to mental healthcare.

Governor JB Pritzker signed two pieces of legislation into law on Wednesday.

House Bill 2595 requires medically necessary mental healthcare to be covered by insurance beginning January 1, 2023. Illinois follows California and Oregon in requiring coverage for mental, emotional, nervous or substance use disorders.

House Bill 2784 creates a first responder system that will coordinate 911 and 988 emergency responses when the national 988 mental health crisis line is established in the summer of 2022. This initiative – the first statewide approach of its kind in the nation – aims to reduce arrests for those with mental illnesses who are deserving of a specialist’s intervention.  

House Bill 2595 

To expand access to quality and reliable insurance for mental healthcare, HB 2595 requires every insurer to provide coverage to all medically necessary mental healthcare across the state. This includes the treatment of mental, emotional, nervous or substance use disorders starting January 1, 2023.  

The legislation requires the Illinois Department of Insurance to file a joint report on mental, emotional, nervous, or substance use condition parity to the General Assembly no later than January 1, 2022. 

House Bill 2595 is effective January 1, 2023. 

House Bill 2784

The Community Emergency Services and Support Act – also known as the Stephon Edwards Watts Act – requires all Illinois municipalities to coordinate 911 and 988 services, with the goal of prioritizing community care over incarceration or improper use of force when it comes to mental or behavioral health emergencies. 

When an individual is dispatched through a 911 system, HB 2784 ensures that an appropriate mobile response is available, requiring 911 call center operators to coordinate with a mobile mental and behavioral health services, established by the Illinois Department of Human Service’s Division of Mental Health (DMH). 

The DMH helps individuals with mental illnesses recover and participate fully in community life. Under this law, DMH will provide guidance on coordinating mobile units, when responding to an individual who is experiencing a crisis.

The Division will also establish regional advisory committees in each Emergency Medical Services (EMS) region to advise on mental and behavioral health emergency response systems. To ensure lasting change, the law requires appropriate responder training, which helps train police officers when responding to mental health emergencies.

HB 2784 is effective January 1, 2022.  

“I’m proud and inspired to be a part of making bold changes to our mental healthcare services in Illinois that will help all Illinoisans receive the essential services and care they need, no matter where they live or their socioeconomic status,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Mental healthcare is healthcare. It’s medically necessary, it’s lifesaving, and it can help address the systemic trauma that has held many communities back for far too long.”  

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Andrew Carrigan

Andy Carrigan is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team as a photographer in 2016 after graduating from Northern Illinois University.

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