Legislation 

Last night, representatives from all five California district branches of the American Psychiatric Association met as the Government Affairs Committee of CSAP to discuss legislation. It was quite a reunion and celebration! Then, the committee got down to work and took positions on eleven pieces of state legislation. The committee also received a report on federal legislation from APA representatives and approved the formation of a subcommittee to propose a CSAP policy platform for 2023. The draft platform will hopefully be ready by September for consideration by all five district branch councils. This process will be transparent, thorough and democratic. Lastly, the CSAP GAC has a new Chairwoman (as reported above) and a new Vice-Chairwoman, Dr. Alexis Seegan of OCPS. Cheers to them and to all five district branches!

The following bills were considered by the CSAP GAC. The GAC recommended support positions on all of them. The Board concurred. These positions will now be relayed to the authors, all the members of the legislature, and the Governor’s key staff. 

AB 1836 (Maienschein) – Peace officers: mental health
The purpose of this bill is to establish the Officer Wellness and Mental Health Grant Program within the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) and require the BSCC to award grants to local law enforcement agencies and peace officer associations for specified purposes.

AB 1859 (Levine) – Mental health services
Requires a health plan contract or health insurance policy that covers mental health services to approve services for a 72-hour hold for treatment and evaluation, schedule an initial outpatient appointment within 48 hours of release, ensure services are within reasonable proximity to the enrollee or insured, and limit cost-sharing to in-network amounts when services are provided out-of-network.

AB 2144 (Ramos)  – Mental health: information sharing
Would authorize confidential information sharing between the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) regarding individuals who have been involuntarily detained and who are prohibited from having firearms, as specified.

AB 2281 (Lackey) – Early Childhood Mental Health Services Act
AB 2281 establishes the Early Childhood Mental Health Services Act, to the extent moneys are appropriated, as a mental health grant program to improve access to and quality of care, services, and supports for children from birth to five years of age, inclusive, and their parents, families, and caregivers, with emphasis on prevention and early intervention and disparities.

AB 2768 (Waldron) – Mental health and substance use disorders: database of facilities
Requires the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHSA), either on its own or through the Behavioral Health Task Force established by the Governor, to create an ad hoc committee to study how to develop a real-time, Internet-based database to display information about available treatment beds in specified facilities.

AB 2870 (Santiago) – Firearms: gun violence restraining orders
Expands the family members who can file a petition for a gun violence restraining order (GVRO) to include any person related by consanguinity or affinity within the 4th degree, as specified, and to additionally allow an individual who has a child in common with the subject, or a roommate, classmate, or dating partner of the subject to file a petition.

SB 225 (Wiener) – Health care coverage: timely access to care
Requires a health care service plan (health plan) to incorporate timely access to care standards and processes into its quality assurance systems. Authorizes the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) to develop methodologies to demonstrate appointment wait time compliance and averages, take compliance or disciplinary action, review and adopt standards concerning the availability of health care to ensure enrollees have timely access to care, and make recommendations to the Legislature if it finds that health care service plans and providers have difficulty meeting the standards the department develops. Requires the DMHC Director to consider, as an aggravating factor when assessing administrative penalties, if harm to an enrollee has occurred as a result of plan noncompliance. Clarifies that the timely access to care provisions do not alter requirements or standards for Medi-Cal managed care (MCMC) plans. 

SB 853 (Wiener) – Prescription drug coverage
Prohibits a health plan or disability insurer that provides coverage for prescription drugs from limiting or declining to cover a drug or dose of a drug as prescribed, or imposing additional cost sharing for covering a drug as prescribed, if specified criteria apply. Provides that a reduction or termination of an ongoing and approved course of treatment before the end of the treatment or the end or amendment of the policy is an adverse benefit determination, and requires a health plan or insurer to notify an enrollee or insured, or their representative, and the enrollee’s or insured’s provider in writing, as specified. Requires a plan or insurer that has approved an ongoing course of treatment to provide continuing coverage pending appeal or review. Prohibits a health plan or insurer that provides coverage for prescription drugs from limiting or declining to cover a drug or dose of a drug as prescribed, or impose additional cost sharing for covering a drug as prescribed, if specified provisions apply, including that the drug was previously covered by the plan or insurer or the enrollees or insured’s prior private or public health care coverage for the enrollees or insurer’s medical condition.

SB 999 (Cortese) – Health coverage: mental health and substance use disorders
Establishes the California Mental Health (MH) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment Patient Safety and Fairness Act to require a health care service plan (health plan) and a disability insurer, and an entity acting on a health plan’s or insurer’s behalf, to ensure compliance with specific requirements for utilization review (UR), including that a health plan and insurer, or an entity acting on the plan’s or insurer’s behalf, maintain telephone access during California business hours for a health care provider to request authorization for MH and SUD care and conduct peer-to-peer discussions regarding specific issues related to treatment. 

SB 1033 (Pan) – Health care coverage
Revises the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) and California Department of Insurance (CDI) requirement to develop appropriate access to language assistance regulations, to also require DMHC and CDI to develop regulations to collect accurate and complete member-level demographic data on its enrollee or insured population to more effectively measure and reduce health disparities, as specified. 

SB 1143 (Roth) – Acute Care Psychiatric Hospital Loan Fund
Establishes the California Acute Care Psychiatric Hospital Loan Fund (Fund) in the State Treasury to provide zero-interest loans to qualifying entities to construct or renovate acute care psychiatric hospitals (APH’s), or renovation or expansion of general acute care hospitals (GACHs) in order to add an inpatient psychiatric unit.

Governor Signs AB 1394 (Irwin)

AB 1394 requires a general acute care hospital, on or before January 1, 2025, to establish and adopt written policies and procedures to screen patients who are twelve years of age and older for purposes of detecting a risk for suicidal ideation and behavior, and, recommends using guidelines similar to those developed by the National Institute for Mental Health. 

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