CSAP held a virtual lobby day today. Participants heard from Senators Susan Eggman and Scott Wiener, Assemblymember Corey Jackson, and Stephanie Welch, Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health with the California Health and Human Services Agency. All four discussions were interactive and informative – and all five District Branches were represented (as was APA!). There will be more opportunities like this later in 2023, i.e., CSAP will not restrict itself to just one day of advocating directly with Sacramento policymakers. Here’s a screen shot from the Zoom with Senator Eggman (third row, far left). We hope more of you can join future opportunities like this!
Senator Eggman and her team briefed us on discussions over SB 43 with the Senate Judiciary Committee in preparation for the hearing on April 25. While there have been concerns from the committee about packaging the grave disability redefinition with the hearsay language, Senator Eggman’s team was able to convey the way these issues can be intricately woven and both critical to making real progress.
Both Senators Eggman and Weiner, heard our concerns regarding the current lack of support for secure mental health beds in the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) realignment. We expressed that the need for secure beds has been dire and will only grow with passage of SB 43. They both expressed their understanding and commitment to providing adequate placements for our most vulnerable patients. Both Senators are aware of the barriers to care imposed by the IMD exclusion. They learned from us about the strict diagnostic limitations imposed on MediCal payments which are consistently used to deny paying for our patient’s care. They directed their staff to work with us on this issue.
Senator Weiner confirmed his commitment to mental health parity with all health care and will consider adding language regarding mental health care in SB 770 which will allow California to position itself to establish a unified healthcare financing.
Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, Stephanie Welch provided an overview of the 988 Mental Health Continuum of Care report that will be coming out soon. Also, her office is hard at work putting together the specifics regarding Governor Newsom’s MHSA realignment. In addition to designating funds for supportive housing, this realignment is intended to improve fiscal accountability of the counties, establish more consistent utilization of evidence-based practices, and aid counties in pulling down MediCal funds more appropriately.
Assemblymember Jackson is the chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee and recently established a Select Committee on Mental Health. His goal with this committee is to focus on rapid changes that could drastically improve the lives of our patients now. For instance, he is working on lowering barriers to receiving MH care at FQHCs by allowing for multiple encounters on the same day and removing pre-authorization requirements for emergency mental health services. Importantly, he learned about the stimulant shortage and psychotropic medication prescribing issues affecting our patients and is going to work with us to take immediate action in contacting federal agencies. In addition, he heard our suggestions and said he would direct staff to invite CSAP to speak at an upcoming Select Committee hearing. Within hours of this commitment, staff followed up with CSAP with an invitation to provide a panelist in the hearing, which will be May 2nd from 10 a.m. to Noon. CSAP will participate in the “Perspectives From the Field” panel. FYI, Cal-ACAP has also been invited to speak on another panel the same day. Stay tuned for more!