Advocacy Alert

Mental health coverage
is at risk

Congress is bringing back the American Health Care Act, which would leave millions of Americans without mental health coverage and strip Medicaid of billions of dollars in funding. Please remember that Medicaid in California is Medi-Cal. And the bill has gotten worse.

The recently introduced “MacArthur Amendment” would let states get waivers allowing health insurance plans to not cover mental health and substance use treatment and charge people with mental illness more.

It’s outrageous to even suggest that mental health coverage is optional and to charge people more because they have a mental health condition.

Medicaid coverage is also under threat. It covers important mental health services that help people with mental illness get better and stay better.

Efforts are being made to generate enough votes which we need stop. We have fought for mental health parity for a long time and this act would reverse years of effort and mean many would not have mental health coverage. Your mental health coverage is at risk.

Tell Congress to #KeepWhatWorks and REJECT the American Health Care Act.

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Thank you for your advocacy efforts.

Conference Presenters: Deadline for Proposals Extended to February 13th

0cb9926c-3944-4165-a01f-ea4e881410c0NAMI California’s 2015 Annual Conference will be returning to Newport Beach on August 21st through the 22nd.

NAMI California is seeking proposals for presentations for our upcoming conference. NAMI California highly encourages workshop applications that incorporate and address diverse communities through dynamic strategies and programs including:

  • Multimedia
  • Education/Training
  • Personal Stories
  • Advocacy
  • Diversity.

Below you will find a brief description of each of the categories. Applications can be found HERE.

You can send your completed proposal to


This year NAMI California is excited to announce that its program will include 6 tracks for its attendees to choose from.

Transitional Aged Youth (T.A.Y.)

Workshops will focus on strategies and best practices for educators, early identification and intervention, and reducing stigma and discrimination for ages 18-24.

Criminal Justice

Workshops will focus on strategies around incorporating and partnering with the law enforcement, the Justice system, and other criminal justice sectors.

Strengthening NAMI

Workshops will focus on best practices in Board development, organizational financial management, and expanding access to NAMI education programs through technology.

Consumer and Family Engagement/Recovery practices

Workshops will focus on strengthening our voice as a unified organization of lived experiences, increase visibility and impact, and promote mental health wellness and recovery.


Workshops will focus on new and innovative ways to advocate, current policies and their impact on all levels (local, state and nation wide), and training tools to effectively utilize grassroots advocacy efforts.


Workshops will be focused on strength-based approaches and best practices to engage diverse communities, increase access to programs and services, and reduce the stigma and discrimination among diverse populations.

Happening Right Now – 12/9/14 Beginning 2 p.m. EST

Live-stream of the Capitol Hill briefing on Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. EST. Click here to watch the event. Speakers include:

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL)
Judge Steven Leifman (11th Judicial Circuit of Florida)
Sheriff Susan Pamerleau of Bexar County (San Antonio), TX
Commissioner Marilyn Brown of Franklin County (Columbus), OH
Bill Carruthers (Representative for National Alliance on Mental Illness)
Paton Blough (Represenative for National Alliance on Mental Illness)
Matthew Chase (Executive Director of the National Association of Counties)
Michael Thompson (Director of the CSG Justice Center)
Dr. Fred Osher (Director – Justice Center’s Health Systems/Services Policy)

L.A. County Unable to Avert Federal Oversight of Jails

Federal officials have rejected a last-ditch effort by Los Angeles County to maintain control over its jails and will move forward with a consent decree to address longstanding problems with mental health care in the troubled facilities.

In a letter sent to the county last week, the Department of Justice said that despite some progress, it remained “concerned about the sustainability and future durability of the reforms.”

The county jails have been monitored by federal officials for the past 12 years under an agreement requiring improvements in treatment of the mentally ill. On June 4, 2014 the Department of Justice announced it would seek court oversight of the jails, citing a dramatic increase in inmate suicides.

In a June 4, 2014 letter describing “dimly lit, vermin-infested, noisy, unsanitary, cramped and crowded” living conditions that exacerbated inmates’ mental distress. After suicides more than doubled, from four in 2012 to 10 the following year, jail officials did little to address the situation, the letter said, calling many of the suicides preventable.

NAMI Los Angeles Coordinating Council has been advocating for better conditions in the jails and with the leadership of Mark Gale and Brittany Weissman NAMI L.A. County Executive Director and the LACC Advocacy Committee things seem to be moving forward.

Mental Illness Program Could Transform L.A. County Justice System

From the LA Times

Los Angeles officials announced Wednesday the launch of an alternative sentencing program aimed at diverting mentally ill, low-level offenders from jail into treatment, a project they hope will signal a dramatic shift for the county’s criminal justice system..

The $756,000 initiative marks one of the county’s most significant attempts to find a better way to treat people who have mental illness and wind up in the criminal justice system by offering them transitional housing, medical treatment and job-hunting help. Officials say the pilot program will start in Van Nuys and initially help 50 people at a time, but it is expected to spread throughout the county and could accommodate up to 1,000 people at once.

The program is designed to reduce jail overcrowding and end a revolving door for offenders with mental illness who find themselves incarcerated for relatively minor crimes.

“It is time to stop bouncing people who are mentally ill and genuinely sick between the streets and our jails,” said Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey. “This is an unconscionable waste of human life and money.”

Read the full article HERE

Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, City Atty. Mike Feuer and L.A. County Superior Court Presiding Judge David Wesley, right, at a news conference on the pilot mental health diversion program, which they support. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Two Pending Congressional Bills On Mental Illness

English: An American Lady butterfly against a ...

English: An American Lady butterfly against a cloud-filled sky. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Which of the two Bills do you endorse?

The Murphy Bill Empowers Parents and Caregivers:

  • Clarifies the Health Information Portability and Accountability (HIPPA) privacy rule and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It would allow physicians and mental health professionals can provide crucial information to parents and caregivers about a loved one in an Acute mental health crisis to protect their health, safety, and wellbeing.
  • Unlike private health insurance or Medicare, Medicaid will not reimburse for inpatient medical care at a psychiatric facility with more than 16 beds (IMD Institute for Mental Disease).  The bill will increase access to inpatient psychiatric care for the most critically ill patients by making narrowly tailored exceptions to the IMD.
  • Promotes alternatives to long-term inpatient care, such as court-ordered “Assisted Outpatient Treatment.” AOT allows the court to direct treatment in the community for the hardest to treat patients-fewer than 1 percent of the people with SMI (severe mental illness) who have a history of arrest, repeat hospitalizations, and violence, because of their illness. AOT has reduced rates of imprisonment, homelessness, substance abuse, and costly emergency room visits for chronically mentally ill participants of upward to 70 percent. It has reduced Medicaid costs by 46 percent for participants.
  • Modeled on a successful state project in Massachusetts, the bill advances tele-psychiatry to link pediatricians and primary care physicians with psychologists.
  • Creates an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders position within the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate federal government programs and ensure recipients of the community mental health service block grant use evidence-based models of care.
  • Emphasizes evidence-based treatments, reforms and unauthorized programs, and strengthens congressional oversight of all behavioral health grants. Applies rigorous quality standards for a new class of Federally Qualified Behavioral Health Clinics.
  • Protects patients who are treated in the healthcare system from being warehoused in the criminal justice system. Mental health courts are provided cost-effective and responsible alternatives to incarcerating the MI.
  • Protects certain classes of drugs, commonly used to treat mental illness, so physicians are able to prescribe the right medication for those on Medicare and Medicaid.
  • The Department of Education will undertake a national campaign aimed at reducing the stigma of Severe Mental Illness in schools. Reauthorizes the Garrett Lee Smith suicide prevention program.
  •  Extends the Health Information Technology Incentive program to mental health providers.
  • Eliminates federal legal barriers under the Federal Tort Claims Act that prevent physician volunteerism at community mental health clinics and federally qualified health centers.

 Contact: Congressman Tim Murphy ~

The Ron Barber Bill – “Strengthening Mental Health in our Communities.” Bill would increase mental health funding for veterans and active-duty service members.

  • Create “Mental Health First Aid” programs in schools and communities.
  • Create a White House Office of Mental Health Policy.
  • Make hospital care more accessible to seniors with mental illness.
  • Require Medicare to cover and treat mental health hospitalizations. Currently Medicare sets a 190-day lifetime cap on inpatient psychiatric care.
  • Create a new Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders.
  • Requires that states that get federal mental health grants to change their standards for involuntary psychiatric commitment, allowing people to be hospitalized against their will, when they need treatment.
  • Provide families with more information about their loved one’s care.
  • Allow hospitals to be reimbursed for short term care including IMD’s.

Contact: Congressman Ron Barber ~

Less Recidivism Found in Offenders Processed Through Mental Health Court

From Psychiatric News Alert: Offenders who participated in a mental health court program recorded significantly better recidivism outcomes compared to matched control defendants in the traditional criminal court system, according to Joye Anestis, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, and co-author Joyce Carbonell, Ph.D., director of women’s studies at Florida State University in Tallahasee.

The study published online in Psychiatric Services in Advance compared two groups of 198 criminal offenders with mental illnesses. Overall, the mental health group had a lower occurrence of rearrest, a longer time to reoffending, and had fewer rearrests. Severity of the rearrest offense did not differ between the two groups, however.

A within-subject analysis of mental health court offenders found that those charged with misdemeanors had a higher occurrence of rearrest than those charged with felonies, but the two groups did not differ on odds of arrest or time to rearrest. Also, violent and nonviolent offenders showed no difference in recidivism outcomes, said Anestis and Carbonell.

The results may suggest that keeping mentally ill offenders out of jail and in community treatment may have positive effects on recidivism, as may the increased attention and supervision they receive, said the authors.

“Future research would benefit from a focus on the mechanisms of change in [mental health courts] and on identifying characteristics of individuals who respond best to participation in [them],” they concluded.

For more in Psychiatric News about mental health diversion options, see: “Judges, Psychiatrists Confer on Handling Mental Illness inJustice System.”

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