The Steinberg Institute announces 2024 legislative priorities

Package includes six bills aligned with Vision 2030 Initiative

SACRAMENTO (March 14, 2024) – Today the Steinberg Institute announced its 2024 legislative priorities, a package of six bills the organization will sponsor during the current California legislative session. The bills, AB 2882, AB 2700, AB 1907, AB 2051, SB 999 and SB 1082 are all aligned with the Steinberg Institute’s Vision 2030, an initiative focused on reducing the cycle of hospitalization, homelessness and incarceration for those living with behavioral health conditions.

“We are focused on making sure all Californians, particularly our most vulnerable, receive quality mental health and substance use care. The Steinberg Institute has accomplished so much, but there’s more to do, and we have a big year ahead of us,” said Sacramento Mayor and Steinberg Institute founder Darrell Steinberg in a video announcement.

The six pieces of legislation are aimed at funding behavioral health in the criminal justice system, reducing emergency department visits for behavioral health crises, improving behavioral health outcomes in the child welfare system, growing our behavioral health workforce, holding insurers accountable for providing substance use care, and keeping residential facilities open for our most vulnerable.

Funding Behavioral Health in our Criminal Justice System
AB 2882 (Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento)

AB 2882, the Community Corrections Accountability Act, tackles the issue of poor behavioral health funding and reporting at the county level. More than half of people incarcerated in county jails have behavioral health needs, but most counties spend less than 15% of their criminal justice funding on behavioral health services. At the same time, the way counties keep track of their spending and outcomes is inconsistent and spotty.

This bill, authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, calls for more behavioral health stakeholders to be included in the planning process for spending these dollars so that a more representative set of experts are at the table when budgeting decisions are made. The bill also calls for better reporting on how that money is spent and proposes the development of a public dashboard that tracks both dollars and outcomes.

This bill is co-sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice.

Reducing Emergency Department Visits for Behavioral Health Crises
AB 2700 (Jesse Gabriel, D-Encino)

AB 2700 focuses on reducing unnecessary and traumatic emergency department visits for people in behavioral health crises. Authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, the bill increases access to behavioral health treatment locations other than emergency rooms. Examples include crisis stabilization units and sobering centers.

This approach builds on the success of the 988 and connects individuals in crisis to appropriate care. The bill requires the state to analyze what facilities are currently available and would require  local governments to develop a plan for transportation to these types of locations.

Improving Behavioral Health Outcomes in Our Child Welfare System
AB 1907 (Gail Pellerin, D-Santa Cruz)

AB 1907 aims to hold California counties accountable for improving the behavioral health outcomes of children and youth in the child welfare system. Authored by Assemblymember Gail Pellerin, it is called the Child Welfare Behavioral Health Data Integration Act.

It would leverage existing outcome data already collected using the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool to improve behavioral health outcomes for children and youth involved in child welfare systems statewide. By integrating this data into the Child Welfare Indicators Project, state leaders would be able to rebuild the systems needed to help youth build resilience and achieve lifelong well-being.

Holding Insurers Accountable for Providing Substance Use Care
SB 999 (Dave Cortese, D-San Jose)

SB 999 addresses tactics, like the use of untrained review personnel, that insurance companies currently use to deny substance use care. Authored by Senator Dave Cortese, the bill would establish criteria for health plans and disability insurers that safeguards patient access to timely substance use treatment.

It would ensure that treatment reviews are conducted by professionals trained in substance use treatment criteria and create more accountability and transparency. The bill builds on California’s existing mental health parity law also sponsored by the Steinberg Institute.

This bill is co-sponsored by The Kennedy Forum, Summit Estate Recovery Center, the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals and the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

Growing Our Behavioral Health Workforce
AB 2051 (Mia Bonta, D-Oakland)

AB 2051 aims to grow our behavioral health workforce and improve access to clinicians by giving Californians the opportunity to see professional psychologists across 40 other states. Authored by Assemblymember Mia Bonta, the bill would ratify and approve the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) in California. PSYPACT is an interstate compact that allows psychologists to practice telehealth and temporary in-person psychology across state lines.

This bill is co-sponsored by Mental Health America of California.

Keeping Residential Facilities Open for Our Most Vulnerable
SB 1082 (Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton)

SB 1082 aims to keep Augmented Residential Care Facilities, including Adult Residential Facilities (ARFs) and Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs), open and adequately funded for individuals with serious mental illness who also have complex care needs. These facilities provide critical housing and care in a less restrictive setting for individuals than other facilities. Authored by Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, this bill would require California to update the Community Care Facilities Act in order to ensure Augmented Residential Care Facilities receive the funds they need when caring for individuals with serious mental illness.

This bill is co-sponsored by the California Association of Local Behavioral Health Boards and Commissions.

The Steinberg Institute is reviewing adding additional bills for support consideration.

“We have a strong agenda for 2024, and we will continue to look closely at all legislation this year to identify opportunities for our support,” said Steinberg Institute CEO Karen Larsen.

Read more about the bills in the legislative package at: https://steinberginstitute.org/legislation/

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About the Steinberg Institute

The Steinberg Institute is dedicated to transforming California’s mental health and substance use care systems through education, advocacy, accountability, and inspired leadership. Our vision: California sets the standards for the nation in prevention, treatment and recovery; where all people receive quality care and support when, where, and for as long as they need it. Founded in 2015 by Sacramento Mayor and former state Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the institute has been the driving force behind sweeping improvements in California behavioral health policy. Visit us at www.steinberginstitute.org.

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