A set of bills has been passed by the State Assembly which is intended to broaden the mental health and health care services covered by private insurance plans.
AB154 and AB171 were approved by the lawmakers on Thursday. AB154 require insurer companies to cover the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. AB171 require insurer companies to cover for developmental disorders such as autism. Legislation to cover oral chemotherapy treatments and mammograms were also approved.
The bills now move to the Senate ahead of a Tuesday deadline to pass legislation that was introduced last year. Many people with mental illness and substance abuse problems are unable to obtain treatment and end up in public health care programs, emergency rooms and state and county jails.
Democratic Assemblyman Jim Beall of San Jose who wrote the mental health and autism bills, said that for those people who were already paying insurance, for them to receive the full scope of health insurance, the most cost-effective way was to expand coverage.
Getting people treated earlier will also save taxpayer money. Republican lawmakers say the legislation will drive up insurance costs, particularly as government broadens the definition of mental illness.