Steinberg Institute

Legislative Priorities 2017

AB 1315 (Mullin):  Early Psychosis Intervention and Early Mental Health Detection Programs (Sponsor)
AB 1315, signed into law in October 2017, aims to shift the paradigm for mental health treatment in California from one centered on late-stage crisis care to one in which the emphasis is on early detection, prevention and intervention, before a brain illness becomes disabling. The bill creates a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to generate new funding and resources for programs that provide early diagnosis and intervention services for young people experiencing the early stages of serious thought and mood disorders.

The legislation creates a special account dedicated to funding early intervention services proven to be effective. The account will be funded by contributions from the private sector and federal, state and private grants. Counties can apply for awards, and if chosen, will be required to provide matching funds – essentially doubling the investment of their mental health dollars.

The tech industry already is engaged in brain health research, eager to devise technology that will help identify biomarkers and other early indicators of serious brain illness, as well as aid in monitoring and treatment. This bill provides an opportunity for leaders in Silicon Valley and throughout the private sector to sit at the table as full partners with county service providers in the battle to transform the treatment model.


AB 1340 (Maienschein): Continuing Medical Education: Mental and Physical Health Care Integration (Sponsor)
AB 1340 will help ensure primary care providers in California are trained to recognize the symptoms of common psychiatric conditions, part of a broader effort to promote early intervention and prevention for people living with mental illness. The bill, signed into law in October 2017, requires that the Medical Board of California consider including in its continuing medical education requirements a course on integrating mental and physical health care in primary care settings.

Multiple recent reports document the alarming disconnect between supply and demand for psychiatric services in the United States. According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, the ratio of psychiatrists to population in the U.S. declined by 10 percent between 2003 and 2013.  Nearly half the nation’s psychiatrists are private practitioners who operate on a cash-only basis. Another recent study found 55 percent of counties in the continental U.S. have no psychiatrists, and 77 percent have a severe shortage.

Meanwhile, studies indicate as many as 40 percent of patients seen in a primary care setting on any given day have an active psychiatric condition. Yet most primary care providers have minimal training in psychiatry as part of their medical education. AB 1340 encourages the Medical Board to build such training into the continuing education requirements for medical professionals.


AB 917 (Arambula): Student Health: Student Suicide Prevention Policies (Sponsor)
AB 917 would require California Community Colleges, California State Universities, and strongly urge the Universities of California, in addition to all private colleges and universities, to adopt and implement policies on the prevention of student suicides.  The new suicide prevention policies would include information on signs and symptoms of suicide ideation, as well as information on how to access local, state, and federal resources.

An estimated 200 California college students die by suicide annually.  AB 917 would strengthen the safety net and help save lives. This is a two-year bill that will move forward in 2018.

AB 1135 (Wood):  California Marijuana Tax Fund (Sponsor)
AB 1135 would offer guidance as the Department of Health Care Services moves to establish protocols for use of Proposition 64 prevention and early intervention funds for community-based mental health services, including substance use disorder services, for youth and their families. The goal of AB 1135 is to draw on lessons learned from implementation of Proposition 63, the 2004 Mental Health Services Act. Like Proposition 64, the Mental Health Services Act created a significant new revenue stream for critical local services.

This is a two-year bill that will move forward in 2018.

AB 1136 (Eggman):  Health Facilities: Residential Mental or Substance Use Disorder Treatment (Co-Sponsor)
AB 1136 directs the Department of Public Health to draft a proposal for creation of an online psychiatric inpatient bed registry to collect and relay information about available beds. Many individuals in the throes of a psychiatric crisis receive initial assessment in an emergency department – an environment often not equipped to treat them. A psychiatric bed registry would facilitate the transfer of patients to more appropriate care settings. It also would make it possible to track which types of psychiatric beds are needed most often and where.

AB 1136 is a two-year bill that will move forward in 2018.

SB 142 – (Beall):  Criminal Offenders: Mental Health (Support)
SB 142 would establish the State Community Mental Health Performance Incentives Fund and require judges to consider a defendant’s mental health history when determining sentencing. The bill would help mitigate the state’s ongoing struggle to treat offenders with a diagnosed brain illness in prison and county jails by diverting qualified patients to appropriate care settings.

This is a two-year bill that will move forward in 2018.

AB 154 (Levine):  Prisoners: Mental Health Treatment (Support)
AB 154 would give Superior Courts discretion when sentencing an offender with a diagnosed brain illness to include mental health treatment in prison and county jails when in the best interests of the defendant and the community.  This does not mean that offenders would not serve time in prison. But with proper treatment, they would have a significantly better chance of not returning once released.

The bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2017.

SB 10 (Hertzberg):  California Bail Reform Act (Support)
The California Bail Reform Act would reform the bail system in California by revising the pretrial release procedure and bail limits in each county. Under SB 10, counties would establish a pretrial services agency that would be responsible for gathering information about newly arrested persons, conducting pre-trial risk assessments, preparing individually tailored recommendations to the court regarding release options and conditions, and providing pretrial services and supervision to persons on pretrial release.

This is a two-year bill that will move forward in 2018.

AB 470 (Arambula): Performance Outcomes (Support)
The Steinberg Institute strongly supports efforts to gather, analyze, and distribute mental health and substance use disorder service data in California.   AB 470, which was signed into law in October 2017, requires the California Department of Health Care Services to develop a performance outcome “dashboard” for specialty mental health services provided to eligible Medi-Cal beneficiaries. This data tool, which should be accessible to the public, is required to include both statewide and plan-specific data, as well as categories such as health disparities and quality indicators.

Find our 2016 Legislative Package here.

Find our 2015 Legislative Package here.