Governor Gavin Newsom Signs SB 855, Key Bill Addressing Mental Health Care

For Immediate Release: Friday, September 25, 2020

Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, Health Access California,, 916-407-70785 (cell)
Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California,, 916-870-4782 (cell)

  • SB 855 (Wiener) was signed today by Governor Gavin Newsom. The bill would significantly expand what mental health and substance use disorder services are considered medically necessary. Current state law requires health plans to cover medically necessary treatment of just nine serious mental illnesses; the new law would expand that coverage to include a much broader array of mental health issues and substance use disorder conditions.
  • report from the CDC released earlier this month reveals the extensive needs of mental health services. Issues such as anxiety, depression, and suicide are more prevalent than ever today.
SACRAMENTO- Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 855 (Wiener) which will require health plans to cover the full range of mental health and substance use disorder treatments.
“This new and overdue law helps ensure Californians won’t be denied coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatments,” said Diana Douglas, Policy and Legislative Advocate at Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “For too long we have allowed our insurance companies to limit coverage for a range of critical mental health services. Now more than ever, coverage for mental health is needed as Californians face unprecedented challenges, including but beyond COVID19. This pandemic has exacerbated the underlying inequities in our health care system, but SB 855 moves us closer to true parity between mental and physical health care.” 
New reports show the severe need for mental health services. The most recent report posted by the CDC stated that rates of anxiety and depression have skyrocketed, and legislators responded with measures like SB 855. Health Access has supported previous version of mental health parity, as part of its ongoing work on expanding access to care and patients’ rights.