Senator Laura Fine

SPRINGFIELD – Illinoisans across the state would have more reliable access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment under legislation from State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview), which advanced out of committee Wednesday. 

“Mental health care is necessary health care, and there is no reason patients should have to drive hours or wait weeks for mental health treatment,” Senator Fine said. “There is already a stigma around mental health that we are fighting to eliminate, and the last thing we need is another roadblock for those seeking care.”

Under Senator Fine’s legislation, insurers would be required to provide timely and proximate access to treatment for mental, emotional, nervous or substance use disorders and conditions. Insurers would also have to make an exception to out-of-network copay requirements if there are not any in-network providers available nearby or timely enough.

In Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties, individuals seeking outpatient mental health treatment would not have to travel longer than 30 minutes or 30 miles for care under Senator Fine’s plan. The limit increases to 60 minutes or 60 miles in other Illinois counties. Additionally, Illinoisans would not have to wait more than 10 business days between requesting an initial appointment and being seen by a provider.  

“Mental health emergencies can escalate just as quickly as other medical issues, and immediate access to treatment can be crucial,” Senator Fine said. “I’m excited to work with my fellow legislators to take another step toward eliminating barriers to mental health care.”

Senate Bill 471 passed the Insurance Committee and now goes to the full Senate.