Last week the US Senate began hearings on a bipartisan effort to provide greater short-term or moderate term stability to the health benefit exchanges which depend upon federal subsidies to provide affordable health insurance to individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid or employer insurance.
These exchanges also depend upon the mandate that everyone must pay at least part of their health insurance if they have above Medicaid incomes, which is the single part of the Affordable Care Act that Republicans have most strongly campaigned to eliminate. Continue reading Growing Washington bipartisanship on many issues gives hope for healthcare future, but everything is still at risk.
AB 1250 (Jones- Sawyer): Extreme limits on County contracting. This is the biggest threat ever to member agencies. Strong opposition seems to be making an impact, but the outcome is uncertain.
By now all members should be familiar with this SEIU and ASFCME sponsored bill which would make it virtually impossible for counties to continue to contract out for the types of services our members provide. Continue reading AB 1250; Prop 63 and 64; School Mental Health
For a variety of reasons, I am being asked much more than ever about the thinking behind various provisions of the mental health services act when we are writing it in 2003 and how that relates to some of the challenges we now have.
Not surprisingly, most of the challenges we now are seeing involved issues we anticipated when we wrote the Act. We have posted all of the preliminary drafts of the MHSA on our website in case anyone is curious about how the language evolved from the first draft in May 2003 to the final language in September.
The Act still looks like it correctly identified what was needed to fulfill our goals. But many parts of it have not been implemented the way it was envisioned and a lot has changed from what we knew in 2003 when it was written. In 2006 I had a different way of viewing how would be implemented and significantly underestimated how challenging it would be for state agencies to regularly update regulations which I thought could be an ongoing process with updates every three years. I also significantly underestimated the delays and challenges in developing outcome data.
In this blog I will speak to some of the issues and some of the solutions. Mostly what is required is a recognition that we have not revisited the guidelines (which led to regulations), all of which were developed before the applicable parts of the act had been implemented.
Now that we have had many years of implementing each part of the act is time to revisit the guidance (leading eventually to updated regulations) through a series of separate workgroups, that can move us more firmly in the direction that I think we all know is where we need to go.
Continue reading The Mental Health Services Act – Then and Now
Congressional Budget Office slams Republican healthcare proposal. More people lose health insurance than gained it under Affordable Care Act.
The analysis that came out Monday from the CBO confirms the views of healthcare experts and state officials. Moreover, it only covers impacts through 2026. My analysis suggests that over 20 years most states will find it impossible to continue the Medicaid program as the block grant spending cap gets tighter the gap between Medicaid costs and federal funding grows. If that happens, the number who lose insurance could eventually be double the numbers in this estimate. Continue reading GOP Health Care Proposal, No Place Like Home, and Vancouver Youth Center
Proposition 64 (Marijuana Legalization) directs 60% of its funds to “Education, Prevention, Early Intervention and Treatment” for substance use disorders including related services such as mental health for youth and their families.
The measure includes a page or more of detail on how the funds “could” be spent, but from my reading this is the only specific limitation on how it must be spent. Youth is not defined, which leaves that up to the legislature which should define it as primarily ages 12-25 with prevention and early intervention for younger children and the “and their families” including parents.
The estimates on the amount of tax on marijuana sales revenues from this portion of the measure range from $300 million to $800 million – with $500 million as a best guess for the first year (2018-19). We then expect revenues to rise in future years.
This is a very significant level of new funding – nearly as much as the original funding from Proposition 63 of 2004 (The Mental Health Services Act) and more than half as much as the original mental health sub-account of 1991 realignment or behavioral health subaccount of 2011 realignment. Continue reading Proposition 64 Funds Can Close Gaps in Realignment and MHSA Funding and Structure
Wow is this country divided!!! California voters approved four statewide tax extensions or increases and many local property taxes and strengthened the already total Democratic Party control of the legislature while at the same time the majority of states gave Republicans the White House and re-affirmed their control of both houses of Congress.
So what will this mean for community behavioral health care in California?
Continue reading Election Over . . . Now What?