MS Activists in Georgia Celebrate Major Legislative Victory
April 6, 2022
The Georgia General Assembly unanimously passed landmark legislation to improve mental and behavioral health services during the last full week of the 2022 session. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Kemp on Monday, April 4.
House Bill 1013 aims to improve access to mental and behavioral health services in several ways, including state enforcement mechanisms for parity. Parity, which is required by federal law, but is often not enforced, requires that mental health be treated the same as physical health by insurance plans. The bill encourages mental health network adequacy and workforce expansion by creating cancelable loans for mental health or substance use professionals. HB 1013 also requires that Medicaid managed care insurers spend at least 85% of the dollars they get in premiums on medical care and quality improvements.
In addition to its physical symptoms, MS may have profound emotional consequences. Depression is the most common mental health diagnosis in those with MS, and many mental health diagnoses are more common in those with MS than the general population. In 2021, Georgia was ranked 48th in an Access Ranking report by Mental Health America.
MS Activists made over 700 connections with elected officials and lawmakers throughout the 2022 session, urging them to support HB 1013. In reference to all the emails and tweets his office received from MS Activists during debate on the bill, Georgia Insurance Commissioner John King said, “You all just kept pounding.” Commissioner King will be instrumental in implementing and enforcing provisions of HB 1013.
Other legislation of interest to MS Activists that passed included bills creating a psychiatric advanced directive, funding the implementation of the 488 crisis line, and reforming the prior authorization processes for long term medications.
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.