California State Senate Passes NAMI California Sponsored Resolution

Measure Establishes July as Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Month – Raising Awareness of Communities of Color

On August 18, the California State Senate passed the NAMI California sponsored resolution recognizing July as Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Month. Following the 2008 proclamation from the United States House of Representatives, National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was created to raise awareness about severe mental illness in diverse communities of color, while highlighting avenues for wellness and recovery.

The legislation, ACR 163, authored by California State Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, recognizes July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in State of California. Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is the Chair of the newly established Assembly Select Committee on Mental and Behavioral Health. Senator Jim Beall presented the legislation in the Senate, which passed it with a 36-0 vote.

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Article by Jim Beall – (D) Each Mind Matters in a Healthy Economy

The need for mental health treatment in California should be an overriding concern for all of us. About 1 in 5 adults in California need mental health support.

A national effort now underway draws attention to the role mental health plays in our overall wellness as individuals and communities. In California, a growing community is working hard to end the stigma surrounding mental health and to increase access to treatment and services.

Delivering treatment hinges on enforcing mental health parity laws that require health insurers to provide services for mental illnesses and addictions that are equivalent to coverage for physical medical care.

In other words, equal co-pays, equal deductibles, no caps on visits and no limits on treatment benefits.

Parity laws, however, are only as effective as the compliance of health insurers. Last year, the state Department of Managed Health Care levied a $4 million fine against Kaiser, accusing the health care provider of limiting access to mental health care. Kaiser is appealing the fine.

In the meantime, I am pushing budget legislation at the state Capitol to reform parity enforcement in California. The existing enforcement system is based on patient-initiated complaints filed with health insurers. I am calling for health insurers instead to reach out and conduct surveys with consumers and providers to measure their compliance.

The state would collect the information and post it on the Internet to help consumers shopping for a new insurance carrier.

By affirming mental health and physical health are equal in importance and response to treatment, we commit a powerful act with a broad benefit to our state.

Just consider the workplace, California’s role in the global economy and how mental wellness affects innovation.

Left misunderstood and untreated, the overall impact of mental or emotional health problems drains our economy and hurts businesses. Untreated mental health challenges cost America at least $105 billion annually in lost productivity.

But we can cut that cost by ensuring a workplace that supports wellness and eliminating prejudice toward people with mental health conditions.

When employees have access to effective mental health treatment, employers see higher productivity, fewer unexcused absences, and both lower turnover and health care costs, according to Wellness Works, an organization that promotes mental health awareness in the workplace.

In the public realm, we can channel our precious police and fire resources for public safety emergencies instead of responding to people in crises caused by untreated mental health problems.

Moreover, Californians have voiced their support for mental health treatment at the ballot box. In 2004, voters passed Proposition 63 to create a fair funding mechanism — independent of the state’s general fund — to expand resources for people with serious mental health needs.

However, much work remains. To build momentum, Mental Health Matters Day — part of May as Mental Health Month — will be observed by hundreds today (May 13th)  in Sacramento.  The event is sponsored by the California Mental Health Services Authority, which implements prevention and early intervention initiatives to expand resources for mental health, and reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness.

Partnering with the authority is Each Mind Matters, an organization bringing Californians together to increase mental health wellness through dialogue and early intervention.

Mental health awareness is a 365-day proposition that requires all of us to act and to recognize when ourselves or others need help.

Let us unite today and renew our efforts to overcome mental illness with understanding, compassion and accessible treatment.

Originally printed in the Sacramento Bee.

Call Your Legislator in Support of Mental Health Parity

From NAMI California:

Dear NAMI Members:

Your help is urgently needed to support better enforcement of mental health and substance use parity laws in California!

As you may know, the Final Rule on Mental Health Parity was adopted last year, and enforcement of those parity regulations was delegated to the states. NAMI California has been working as a part of a broad coalition to ensure that funding for parity enforcement was included in the state budget. Our coalition was successful in getting parity proposals introduced!

There are two parity enforcement proposals before Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1 on Health and Human Services and the members of the Committee and the Chair need to hear your support today! (See calling information at the bottom of this message.)

Senator Jim Beall has made a proposal in the state’s budget process to augment and improve the budget of the Department of Managed Health Care so that it can better enforce both state and federal parity laws in California. Another budget augmentation proposal, this one by the Department of Managed Care Services, would also appropriate additional money the Department needs to start enforcing parity in California.

Senator Beall’s proposal adds more consistent surveillance of managed care plan activities, augments staffing for the Department, and requires annual reporting of enforcement activities. When these are added to the budget augmentation requested by the Department the two proposals together become very powerful to give the Department the tools it needs to robustly enforce parity mandates against discrimination in health care in California and to do so transparently.

Call your member on the Committee RIGHT NOW!!  Or, if your legislator is not on the Committee or you are calling for your affiliate, call the office of the Chair.  The proposal will be heard at 1pm tomorrow in the Sub Committee hearing so time is of the essence.   If you can’t call today, please call between 9am and 12 pm tomorrow morning.  Affiliates that can should also send a representative to the Sub Committee hearing tomorrow for oral testimony.

Tell them:

  1. You support BOTH proposals, the Department’s and Senator Beall’s.
  2. Make certain you are clear that Senator Beall’s proposal adds to, and does not supplant the Departments proposal     And that both individually are very good proposals, together they are terrific!
  3. Urge support for BOTH proposals when the item is considered by the Sub Committee tomorrow!

Here is a quick script you can follow:

“Hi, my name is ________, and I’m a member of NAMI (Affiliate). I’m calling to express my support for both the Department of Managed Health Care and Senator Jim Beall’s (pronounced Bell) budget proposal to enforce Mental Health Parity laws in California being heard tomorrow in Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1. Senator Beall’s proposal strengthens the Departments proposal by providing more resources for parity enforcement. I strongly urge your support!”

Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1 on Health and Human Services Contact Information

Member

District

Party

Phone

Chesbro, Wesley

2-Includes
Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, and Northern Sonoma
County.

916 319 2002 

Dickinson, Roger

7-Includes
Sacramento, West Sacramento, Natomas, Rio Linda, Elverta, Antelope and North
Highlands.

916 319 2007 

Grove, Shannon

34-Includes
Bakersfield,
Bear Valley Springs, China Lake Acres, Fellows, Frazier Park Golden Hills,
Inyokern, Lebec, Oildale, Ridgecrest,
 Rosedale, Taft,
Tehachapi,
Valley Acres

916 319 2034 

Mansoor, Allan

74-Includes
Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Newport
Beach

916 319 2074 

Weber, Shirley (Chair)

79-Includes Mission
Valley, Grantville, Del Cerro, La Mesa, Oak Park, Encanto, Lemon Grove,
National City, Paradise Hills, Bonita 

916 319 2079 

Please call NOW!!!

If you have any questions please contact our Legislation and Public Policy Director, Caliph Assagai, Esq., at Caliph.Assagai@namicalifornia.org.

Thank you,

NAMI California Advocacy Department

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