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Speaker of Georgia House declares mental health reform a top priority. Here's what legislation is on the table.

You can check this list to review the bills and voice your vote to state leaders.

ATLANTA — 11Alive shared stories from our investigative series #Keeping with legislative leaders in Georgia. The series highlights systemic gaps and heartbreak leading to child abandonment in the Peach State. We showed them how workforce shortages, mental health parity, and the denial of medically necessary services all play a role.

You can read all of the responses 11Alive received from lawmakers here.

On Jan. 26, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston declared mental health reform as a top priority this legislative session, and announced a bipartisan package to tackle the issue. Governor Brian Kemp echoed Ralston's sentiments, saying in a statement on Twitter he applauds the House speaker "for putting forth this comprehensive package to address mental health needs" in the state.

11Alive has compiled a list of what has been proposed so far. Check this list to review the bills and voice your vote to state leaders. We will update this list daily as these bills progress through the session. 

11Alive is not endorsing any of the following measures, merely providing a list for the community to review.

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Proposed legislation on the state level

HB1013: Mental Health Reform: — A 74-page bill that mandates mental health parity, creates new programs to identify and treat those with mental health needs cycling through jails, emergency rooms, and treatment programs,  establishes a grant program for outpatient treatment options and loan forgiveness for psychiatrists, social workers and behavioral health clinicians.

  • Status: Passed House 3/8/22. Passed Senate unanimously 3/30/2022. Awaiting signature from Gov. Brian Kemp.
  • Hearings: None scheduled
  • Votes: None

SB342: Mental Health Parity Reporting — To require insurance companies to provide annual reports proving equality in coverage for mental health and to establish penalties for failure to comply.

  • Status: PASSED in the Senate 48-3, Now in the House
  • Next Hearing: Not Scheduled
  • Votes: None taken in the House
  • Sponsors: 19 sponsors including Kay Kirkpatrick, Ben Watson, Chuck Hufstetler, Dean Burke, Kim Jackson

HB590 — Provide for a grant program to establish assisted outpatient treatment programs for people with mental illness.

  • Status: House Health and Human Services Committee
  • Hearings: None scheduled
  • Votes: None 
  • Sponsors: Don Hogan, Mary Margaret Oliver, Noel Williams, John LaHood, Shaw Blackmon, Mitchell Scoggins

HB853 — This bill would initiate mental health treatment as an alternative to imprisonment. It would also provide for mental health treatment options during imprisonment.

  • Status: Judicial Non-Civil 
  • Hearings: None scheduled
  • Votes: None
  • Sponsors: Sandra Scott, Kim Schofield, David Wilkerson, Viola Davis, Donna McLeod

HB713 — Provide multifaceted mental health reform initiatives and supports to reduce homelessness.

  • Status: Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee
  • Hearings: None scheduled
  • Votes: None
  • Sponsors: Katie Dempsey, Penny Houston, J Collins, Calvin Smyre, Bill Hitchens, Karla Drenner

HB571 — Establish mental health training requirements for law enforcement.

  • Status: Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee
  • Hearings: None scheduled
  • Votes: None
  • Sponsors: Yasmin Neal, Mack Jackson, Zulma Lopez, Marvin Lim

HB570 — This legislation would establish mental health training requirements for law enforcement through the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.

  • Status: Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee
  • Hearings: None scheduled
  • Votes: None
  • Sponsors: Yasmin Neal, Mack Jackson, Zulma Lopez, Marvin Lim

HR651 — Create a study commission to evaluate, simplify and eliminate duplication in regulations for mental health providers.

  • Status: Health& Human Services Committee
  • Hearings: None scheduled
  • Votes: None
  • Sponsors: Shelly Hutchinson, Sharon Cooper, Mary Margaret Oliver, Beverly James, Kim Schofield

HB15 — This bill would require de-escalation training for law enforcement.

  • Status: Public Safety & Homeland Security
  • Hearings: None scheduled
  • Votes: None
  • Sponsors: Sandra Scott, Park Cannon, Kim Schofield, Shelly Hutchinson, Karen Bennett

HB1069 — Establish new licensure requirements for adult mental health service providers. 

  • Status: Passed out of Health & Human Services Committee
  • Hearings: None
  • Votes: None
  • Sponsors: Bruce Williamson, Sharon Cooper, Matt Hatchett, Mary Margaret Oliver, Butch Parrish, Todd Jones

SB403 — Provide for creation, education, and process for dispatch of co-responder teams that include law enforcement and behavioral health clinicians to respond to a mental health crisis.  

  • Status: None
  • Hearings: None
  • Votes: None
  • Sponsors: Ben Watson, John Albers, Bill Cowsert, Randy Robertson, Kay Kirkpatrick, Brian Strickland

SB208 — To require the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities fully provide funded services over a five-year period to those with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are on the New Options Waiver (NOW) or Comprehensive Supports Waiver (COMP) waiting list. This would also prohibit the department from capping or limiting community living support services under the COMP waiver.

  • Status: Appropriations
  • Hearings: None scheduled
  • Votes: None
  • Sponsors: Sally Harrell, Ed Harbison, Nikki Merritt, Sheikh Rahman, Freddie Sims, Tonya Anderson, Valencia Seay, Sonya Halpern, Elena Parent, Jennifer Jordan, Michelle Au, Kim Jackson, Gail Davenport, Harold Jones II, Nan Orrock

HB239 — To provide that the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities conduct or coordinate all audits of behavioral health providers

  • Status Health & Human Services Committee
  • Hearings: None
  • Votes: None
  • Sponsors: Shelly Hutchinson, Erick Allen, Kim Schofield, James Beverly, Rebecca Mitchell, Sandra Scott

Proposed legislation on the national level

S1902/HR5611: Behavioral Health Crisis Services Expansion Act — To revamp the current response to mental health and suicidal crises by establishing national standards for crisis care, including universally available 24/7 local crisis call centers, mobile crisis teams, crisis stabilization centers, short-term residential care and behavioral health urgent walk-in care. It would also provide funding for the development of crisis services.

S828/HR432: Mental Health Access Improvement Act — Provides for coverage of marriage and family therapist services and mental health counselor services under Medicare. It also excludes such services from the skilled nursing facility prospective payment system, and authorizes marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors to develop discharge plans for post-hospital services.

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