Sometimes in Sacramento a lot can happen in just a couple of hours. Such was the case yesterday as AB 988 not only passed out of the Senate 37-0 but then, later in the day, also passed the Assembly on a concurrence vote (required since the bill was amended in the second house) by just one vote. A screen shot of the Assembly concurrence vote is provided here. You will see the 2/3 vote requirement (54 votes to pass) at the bottom of the screen. CSAP and SYASL pulled out all the stops to help the author get the required votes. A great legislative win in 2023 for CSAP as well as many other statewide groups. SYASL received a very nice note from the author later in the day, which read, “…you were instrumental in our success on AB 988 today…couldn’t be more grateful. This is such important work. Thanks for your involvement. RBK”. RBK stands for Rebecca Bauer-Kahan the bill’s author.
A reminder that AB 988 as it is being sent to the Governor would require health care service plans and insurers to cover medically necessary treatment of a mental health or substance use disorder, including behavioral health crisis services, provided by a 988 center or mobile crisis team, regardless of whether the service is provided by an in-network or out-of-network provider, at the in-network cost-sharing amount.
During Senate debate on the bill, the health plans attempted to amend the bill through a motion by Senate Pat Bates. Not only did the motion fail, Senator Bates ended up voting for the bill. Senator Durazo raised concerns about the bill specifically with respect to its contracting provisions, over which organized labor – the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – has concerns. Senator Durazo ended up voting for the bill too! SEIU attempted to lobby against the bill when it was immediately referred back to the Assembly for the concurrence vote but then relented when they realized that the sponsors and supporters had truly locked down the members who would be voting aye.
For all of you who have worked on 988 at the federal and the state level, congratulations. Much more work to be done on suicide prevention but yesterday was a phenomenal next step.