California Bill AB 2581 – Less Delays, More Helping Families

By: Stefanie McCully
Caring parents and son during therapy session with BCBA

Are you a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Practice Owner in California who accepts health insurance? We have some GREAT news for you! On September 25, 2022, Governor Newsom announced the signing of California Bill AB 2581, which will increase access to mental health services by reducing credentialing delays for providers. 

This new bill introduces a 60-day timeline for health insurance companies to complete the credentialing process for a mental health clinician and a 7-day timeline to notify the applicant that the application was received and completed. Currently, in California, there is no set timeline for Governor Newsom announced the signing of California Bill AB 2581 to credential providers. 

Assembly member Rudy Salas, a primary sponsor of the bill expands on this: “AB 2581 helps increase access to mental health services that can significantly improve the lives of children and their families,” said Assembly member Salas. “At a time when California is facing a mental health workforce shortage, AB 2581 will cut bureaucratic red tape so that qualified professionals can meet the community’s needs quicker. This bill will increase opportunities for families to receive the life changing care and services they need.” 

With the signing of AB 2581 California will join 25 other states that have codified credentialing time limits to increase timely access to mental health services.  

Questions and answers about the new Bill

We sat down with Stefanie McCully, VP of Revenue Cycle Management at RethinkBH to ask some questions about this new bill and its impact on providers and clients in California.  

What does AB 2581 entail? 

This new bill, No.2581 in California, will go into effect for all newly issued, amended, or renewed contracts as of 1/1/23 which requires health plans that provide coverage for mental health and substance abuse disorders to credential health care providers within 60 days after receiving a completed provider application.

Health plans will also be required to notify the applicant within 7 business days notification of receipt and inform whether the application is complete. 

How will this bill impact existing ABA providers? 

This bill will have a dramatic impact on the access to care for so many members and families seeking behavioral health services by drastically reducing the length of time for credentialing of new providers joining existing practices, which is one of the biggest revenue & benefit constraints for growing ABA practices.

Credentialing can take upwards of 6mo-1yr+ for new providers which impacts the level of benefits members/patients may have to use to see new providers.  

How will this bill impact families seeking services?

The passing of this Assembly bill not only is a momentous success for all ABA and behavioral health practices in CA but also has a significant impact on how quickly patients can get access to qualified network health care professionals.

This impact decreases potential wait lists for families waiting for providers in their network, usage of network benefits which will lower out-of-pocket expenses for families and increase overall the number of in-network providers available to them. 

Is there anything providers should be doing now to prepare for this change? 

If your organization is considering joining health plan networks, it is best to start the process now to see the benefit of this new bill. This bill does not impact the initial contracting and is intended to shorten the credentialing timeline for existing contracted organizations adding new providers to their group.

By being contracted with the health plans prior to this change, it will significantly reduce the length of time for new providers joining your practice in 2023 to start treating families and patients in need. 

Experience less delays when hiring & scaling your practice 

If you are a BCBA or ABA Practice Owner in California and accept health insurance, request a demo using the form below to see how this new bill can help your practice, or contact us with any questions you have about the new bill.

Request a Demo

About the Author

Headshot of Stefanie McCully, VP of Revenue Cycle Management Services for RethinkBH

Vice President of Revenue Cycle Management Services

Stefanie McCully has been in the Medical Billing/ABA industry for the past 9 years working with provider groups across multiple states specifically focused on pediatric therapy billing. Prior to joining Rethink, she worked in the provider world where her focus was on revenue cycle management and growing multi-specialty practices by means of payor networks and facility expansion.

Stefanie has a passion and devotion for professional development, process improvement, and customer experience. Her focus is on growing the business with a dedicated team of expert billers and leaders to serve our customers. She is happy to answer any questions you have about the services we offer!

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