A mental health parity law that took effect in California on January 1, 2021, means that independent review organizations (IRO) and utilization review organizations (URO) can expect to work with new care guidelines when assessing coverage standards.

Senate Bill (SB) 855 is one of several pieces of legislation to appear in recent months aimed at improving mental health coverage and addressing perceived disparities in the breadth and extent of coverage. Similar laws, including Illinois House Bill 2595, require that health insurers adhere to standards of care developed by nonprofit organizations, rather than the more traditional commercial standards.

The Illinois bill, for instance, requires that “an insurer shall exclusively apply the criteria and guidelines set forth in the most recent versions of the treatment criteria developed by the nonprofit professional association for the relevant clinical specialty.”