ACTION ALERT: Georgia HB520 Mental Health Parity

Last year, the Georgia Legislature passed a massive Mental Health bill HB1013.  Fortunately, one of the most egregious aspects financially benefiting the sponsors was pulled out.  This year, the legislature is back at it with another attempt.  One fourth of the bill defines studies to be completed that will define how the bill will work.  More importantly, there is no definition of “Severe Mental Illness” in the bill. A consortium of unelected bureaucrats not accountable to the people will decide.  For a quick video overview, watch this segment on Conservative Daily from the 5 minute mark to the 30 minute mark.  Thanks to Diane Cox for the details below.  Please call the Senators listed to let them know of your opposition. Time is of the essence.

Action Alert HB 520 committee hearing today 3/15/2023 at 3:00
by Diane Cox 

Watch livestream today at 3:00 hereHB 520 [Mental Health Parity] will get a second hearing today in the sub-committee, then the full Senate Health and Human Services Committee will meet immediately after and probably take a vote. Now is the time to strike!

The committee has invited anyone to submit a testimony about HB 520, and it will be distributed to all its members. I directed my message to the Chm. vice-chm and secretary, with a request to distribute. Please do that now. I plan to do it again this morning with new information that I received on a zoom call last night.

At Monday’s sub-committee meeting, the room was standing room only. The other side had people there, but our opposition people showed up in force. After the meeting, the chief sponsor, Rep. Todd Jones, met with our opposition. He then used their talking points and countered them with lies that he sent to all the committee. He has designed this bill solely to sell his high-tech monitoring device using a pilot program and state grants to skirt the procurement process to sell to the state. Last year, his infamous bill, HB 1013, contained actual language of his device “Talitrix” that was stripped out in the Senate version. Rumor is that he ran for office again just to get a bill passed to promote his patented device. Here is a video of him selling his device to the Tennessee legislature.

This bill is not needed. The state already has a Department of Behavioral Health with a $1.4 billion budget. This bill creates unneeded study committees but without language on how to and how much the cost. It creates a massive new database of all Georgia citizens, combining ALL of the state’s executive agency databases to “Identify ways to use and share existing data for business intelligence and predictive analytic opportunities.” (lines 762-763) The bill gives immunity for civil and criminal liability to any entity contracted (lines 582-585).

It must be stopped in committee. Ask them to table or kill it. Please do you part.

Below are additional talking points provided by Eagle Forum of Georgia:

Liberties and human rights outlined in the fourth, fifth and sixth amendments in the US  are in jeopardy.

HB 520 gives the right for law enforcement to confine someone based on the affidavits of two people, whose identity is to be concealed.  “… information personally identifying the affiants shall be redacted and concealed.” (lines 473-478) This is in violation of the Bill of Rights and is asking law enforcement to violate these rights.  

HB 520 will multiply the number of people taking dangerous psychiatric drugs.  Step therapy is a managed care approach intended to control the costs and risks posed by prescription drugs. This bill discourages step therapy.  HB 520 states: “A health benefit plan shall not impose a step therapy protocol for a prescription drug prescribed for the treatment of serious mental illness, as defined by the department.”  (line76)  

520 seeks to impose mental health treatment on individuals “who do not pose a public safety risk” under the pretext that it will keep them out of jail. (line 109) (In jail a person has the right of due process, but with involuntary commitment, they don’t.)   Current Georgia law specifically demands that: For inpatient involuntary treatment, a person must be in need of involuntary treatment and be an imminent danger to self or others. There must be some acts or threats of violence to show this danger, or be unable to care for their physical health and safety to a point where their life is in danger.      

HB 520 endeavors to create a process to define Severe Mental Illness but SMI has already been defined by the National Institute of Mental Health:  

  “Serious Mental Illness (SMI) – SMI is a smaller and more severe subset of mental illnesses; SMI is defined as one or more mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder(s) resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities (NIMH).”  

Under HB 520 there will be housing accommodations for criminal offenders with a federal and private donor landlord incentive program. (lines 1081 – 1104).  

HB 520 does not provide for an auditing process for the millions of Georgia tax payer dollars that will be spent on mental health administration, mental health programs, prescriptions, government data bases of patients and providers, student loan forgiveness.  

Please call members of the Health and Human Services Committee and firmly but respectfully voice your concerns.
Ben Watson          (404) 656-7880                                                        
Kay Kirkpatrick     (404) 656-3932  
Ed Setzler              (404) 656-0256                 
Matt Brass            (404) 656-0057  
Gloria Butler         (404) 656-0075  
Shelly Echols         (404) 463-3931   
Sonya Halpern      (404) 463-1351  
Bo Hatchett           (404) 651-7745  
Mike Hodges         (404) 463-1309  
Chuck Hufstetler  (404) 656-0034  
Kim Jackson           (404) 656-6882  
John Kennedy       (404) 656-6578  
David Lucas           (404) 656-0150  
Nan Orruck            (404) 463-8054  
Brian Strickland    (404) 463-6598  
Larry Walker III     (404) 656-0095 

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