I have been lobbying since 1977, and with CCCBHA since 1986, and in all of those years there has never been one like 2017. One where Sacramento is totally consumed by what will, or will not, happen in Washington DC and what it might mean.
Our agencies are impacted by what it means for Medicaid, and the state and counties will act with that looming shadow. Immigration policies create threats for many families we serve. For many of us and our staff, we have personal concerns that go beyond any of these specific issues.
These fears and uncertainties are so big that they are now part of every meeting and conversation. What we can do about it must take precedence over everything else. So, all of my blogs this year will start with this subject and my latest thinking. Continue reading A Long Strange Trip – and About to Get Stranger
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?
As we look toward the November election, all eyes seem to be on the presidential race, but some are focused on the high profile state initiatives – such as Proposition 64, which legalizes marijuana and provides funding for substance abuse treatment.
Four Bay Area Counties’ Housing Ballot Measures Very Important to Mental Health
However, four bay area housing bond measures may turn out to be the most important issues impacting mental health service funding and housing. They would free up mental health funds that might otherwise have been needed for housing and, even more importantly, act as a catalyst for more similar measures. Any new funding to support people who are homeless will help the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA or Prop 63) in achieving its primary goal of serving everyone with a severe and disabling mental illness – by reducing the pressure to use MHSA funds for housing.
Continue reading Counties’ Housing Ballot Measures Important to Mental Health
I was fortunate to have two outstanding summer interns from the University of California: Monica Venegas and Deepika Dilip. They produced this report which is now as complete as it is going to get, so it is time to share what they found and provide some explanation.
Since this is not a formal report, but intended only to provide a meaningful snapshot of what information was available, I asked them only to develop information on the 20 largest counties (by population). While this excludes 38 counties it does cover about 95% of the state’s population and behavioral health funding.
Continue reading Shedding Light on County Behavioral Health Finances
County behavioral health revenues continue to rise. Many counties are budgeting for significant spending increases for 2016-17
My summer interns were asked to contact the state’s twenty largest counties (by population) to ascertain behavioral health revenue and spending information for 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17. They started by looking online and then contacted county officials to obtain more information. They reported more success in obtaining this information than had previously been experienced by most mental health stakeholder organizations, which had expressed frustration in the lack of readily available information online. The key to their success seems to have been contacting county budget offices instead of behavioral health departments. Continue reading Behavioral Health Revenues Rise – November Ballot Measures of Interest
State Budget Reflects Healthy Economy and Increased Attention to Behavioral Health Issues
Last week the legislature sent the 2016-17 budget to the Governor with a record general fund spending level of $122 billion. Revenues were a bit below what had been projected in January but still enough above the previous year to allow for some program increases as well as an increase in the state “rainy day fund.”
Housing to address homelessness and related increases in SSI/SSP payments were important parts of the budget for the first time in recent memory. Continue reading State Budget Reflects Healthy Economy and Increased Attention to Behavioral Health Issues
After about ten years of implementation some fine tuning is needed for the Mental Health Services Act to better achieve its goals
This Thursday May 26th the Little Hoover Commission will hold its second hearing on the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). At issue is its conclusion that state officials have not implemented the recommendations they made in January 2015.
At the same time legislators are taking unprecedented steps to earmark funds (Senate No Place Like Home budget proposal; AB 2017 McCarty – College Students; AB 2279 – Fiscal Reporting). CCCBHA and I support these efforts and join other stakeholders in recognizing the need for some fine tuning of this act.
Continue reading After 10 Years, Fine Tuning is Needed for the Mental Health Services Act
April 11 – Governor signs AB 847 (Mullin) – Funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers
- 30% increase in federal matching funds for outpatient behavioral health
- Improved and streamlined way to receive federal funds
- Counties must elect to participate and be certified by state
- State must be selected as a participating state; odds are good that this will happen
- Lots of work between now and October 31 Deadline for submittal of the state plan
AB 847 appropriates $1 million to enable DHCS to develop a California proposal to participate in the federal Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers (CCBHC) program.
California is one of 24 states receiving a planning grant in October 2015 to develop a proposal to submit in October of 2016. Under current federal law, eight states will be selected to begin a two year demonstration program. These programs will show that increased federal investment in outpatient behavioral health will pay for itself in reduced physical health and behavioral health inpatient and other costs.
Continue reading Governor Signs Funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers