Parity Town Hall: Ensuring Access to Behavioral Health Care in Georgia
November 13, 1-2:30pm
During this FREE interactive town hall event, you will:
- Learn why insurance parity is critical to accessing behavioral health treatment services
- Identify actions people can take if they experience a denial of coverage
- Have an opportunity to share your own experiences with parity
- Gain tools to spread the word about parity with your networks
- Hear tips about advocating for parity with state legislators and other policymakers
Register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEsfuisqDktHt2HPOVYreoE3BlWKAl1LfcQ
Laura Colbert, Executive Director, Georgians for a Healthy Future
Alyssa Green, Outreach and Education Manager, Georgians for a Healthy Future
Helen Robinson, Associate Director, Public Policy, Mental Health Program, The Carter Center
Georgians are regularly unable to afford or access the preventive mental health and substance use services or treatment that they need. State and federal laws require that most insurance plans provide equal coverage, sometimes called “parity,” for behavioral health services when compared with treatment for other medical conditions. Improving and enforcing these laws would help Georgians who have private or public health insurance more easily access behavioral health services and have the services covered by their insurance.
The concept behind parity is pretty simple: People should have the same access to mental health treatment that they have for their physical health. A law was passed in 2008 (the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, commonly known as the Federal Parity Law) that requires insurers to cover illnesses of the brain (such as schizophrenia, depression, and addiction) no more restrictively than they cover illnesses of the body (such as heart conditions or diabetes).
Unfortunately, that concept has not become reality in many states, including Georgia. The federal law left it up to each state to determine how to enforce the law. Over ten years later, there is no clear process in place for Georgians who believe they have been denied parity to seek recourse.
A working group of Georgia nonprofits and allies has been working to craft a strategy to make parity a reality in Georgia. There have been some legislative attempts over the years to improve parity in Georgia (you can read about them here), but each has failed.
There are a lot of special interest groups who have a financial stake in making sure parity in Georgia is not realized. Until Georgia’s citizens are better able to speak to their legislators about how important access to mental health support is, we may never achieve parity here.
That is why the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network is encouraging its members, allies, and supporters to learn more about parity, and to begin talking about parity with their legislative leaders, behavioral healthcare providers, neighbors, and family members.
Parity is the law in Georgia. It is time for it to become a reality.
Please subscribe to their email list on https://www.gmhcn.org/mental-health-parity-in-georgia (scroll to the bottom to join list) or follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GMHCN/ to stay updated on their advocacy efforts as they move towards the 2021 legislative session.