Reps. Todd Jones, Mary Margaret Oliver Introduce Legislation to Continue Mental Health Reform Efforts

Staff Report

Monday, February 27th, 2023

State Representatives Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) and Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) today introduced legislation to continue to reform Georgia’s mental health care delivery system and address workforce shortages. House Bill 520 would build upon the foundation of Georgia’s Mental Health Parity Act, which was championed by late Speaker Ralston and Reps. Jones and Oliver during the 2022 legislative session.

“Today, the House begins the next chapter in reforming and improving mental health care in Georgia – continuing the bipartisan effort that our late-Speaker Ralston led last year,” said Speaker Jon Burns (R-Newington). “Representatives Jones and Oliver will once again shepherd the measure through the legislative process – working with providers, advocates and other stakeholders. I cannot thank them enough for the tremendous leadership they have shown on this critical issue that impacts most every family in our state.”

“In just one year, we’ve made historic strides to overhaul Georgia’s mental health care system, but we must ensure our vital workforce can meet the needs of Georgians,” said Rep. Jones. “Like many states, our workforce is struggling to keep up with the growing demand for care, and this legislation would both incentivize these workers to stay in Georgia and alleviate the educational costs of becoming qualified for this field.”

House Bill 520 would expand the state’s loan forgiveness program for mental health care providers. This legislation would also create new authorities for sharing and collecting data, as well as establish rules for transferring data in compliance with federal and state law. This legislation also includes a funding mechanism that would allow the Georgia General Assembly to appropriate funds in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget for crisis services in Fulton, Laurens and Muscogee counties.

“I am glad for this opportunity during the 2023 legislative session to continue our efforts to improve mental health and substance abuse recovery services for all Georgia citizens,” said Rep. Oliver. “There is still much work to do, particularly in the area of workforce protection, development and expansion.”

This legislation is cosponsored by House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), House Minority Leader James Beverly (D-Macon) and House members in the Georgia Mental Health Caucus.