Gov. Pritzker Signs Nation-Leading Legislation Expanding Access to Mental Healthcare

Illinois Becomes Third State in the Country to Require Insurance Coverage for Mental Health Disorders
Establishes Innovative Statewide Response to Mental Health Crises 
August 25, 2021 - Governor JB Pritzker today signed two pieces of legislation into law to establish a forward-thinking mental healthcare infrastructure in Illinois. 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. 

 "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."

"Access to affordable mental healthcare is a right and not a privilege. Right now, 56% of Americans who need mental healthcare don't receive it. As more and more people are feeling stressed, helpless, and grief-stricken, we must do everything we can to fight our way through this pandemic," said Lt. Governor Stratton. "With the signing of these bills, Illinois ensures that there will be increased access to the professionals and the resources needed to manage a crisis, create safe spaces, and improve mental health outcomes for the people who need it most. We must remove the stigma around mental healthcare, and these bills are a step in the right direction."   

"The Governor's signing of HB 2595 further strengthens Illinois' commitment to ensure consumer access to medically necessary treatment of mental, emotional, nervous, or substance use disorders or conditions," said Dana Popish Severinghaus, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance. "The Illinois Department of Insurance was the first state insurance department to administer targeted mental health market conduct exams for companies selling health plans on the ACA Marketplace.  We will continue to lead by example to protect Illinoisans, reduce barriers to care, and achieve mental health and substance use disorder parity."