About Behavioral Health
An estimated 7.5 million people in California experience a mental health disorder in any given year, but only one-third of adults who experience mental illness are getting treatment due to a lack of behavioral health care workers. Despite major improvements in health care coverage over the past decade, substantial discrepancies persist in available behavioral health care among commercial health plans and public programs. For this reason, many people experiencing mental health crises frequently turn to hospital emergency departments for treatment, and this number is increasing. From 2011 to 2020, there was a 68% increase. Caregivers at hospitals know the obstacles people with behavioral health conditions face and the challenges in getting them treatment and embrace the essential role they play in helping those in crisis. Strategies must mirror those in primary health care where the goal is prevention and early intervention, along with offering a continuum of services that will help Californians with behavioral health needs avoid acute care, hospitalization, incarceration, conservatorships, and institutionalization.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has issued a proposed rule implementing provisions of the Veterans Community Care Program — authorized by the MISSION Act — which allows covered veterans to receive necessary hospital, medical and extended care services from non-VA providers.
Under the MISSION Act, veterans enrolled in the VA health system can seek care from non-VA providers if they meet one of the following six conditions:
VA does not offer the required care or services.
VA does not operate a full-service medical facility in the state where the veteran resides.
The veteran was eligible to receive care under the Veterans Choice Program and is eligible to receive care under certain grandfathering provisions.
VA is not able to furnish care or services to a veteran in a manner that complies with VA’s proposed access standards.
The veteran and the referring clinician determine it is in the veteran’s best medical interest to receive care or services from an eligible entity or provider based on consideration of proposed criteria.
The veteran is seeking care or services from a VA medical service line that VA has determined is not providing care that complies with VA’s standards of quality.
The proposed rule also defines which non-VA entities and providers are eligible to participate in the program and clarifies payment rates and methodologies for those community providers. VA previously issued a separate proposed rule implementing urgent care provisions for the new program. Comments on the proposed rule are due March 25.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has proposed access standards under the new Veterans Community Care Program, as required by the MISSION Act of 2018. The VA also issued a proposed rule that establishes a new benefit for veterans to access urgent care services.
New resources are available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help providers who care for children with serious emotional disturbances, including those caused by disasters. The resources define “serious emotional disturbance,” address emotional disturbances during disasters, highlight disasters’ emotional impact on children and teens, clarify complex trauma and how it can impact children, and explain causes of post-traumatic stress disorder in children and teens.
The California Department of Public Health reminds general acute care hospitals and acute psychiatric hospitals that, effective Jan. 1, they may not require, as a condition of admission, a person who voluntarily seeks care to be placed on an involuntary hold under Section 5150 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
Special resource toolkit developed by CHA’s EMS/Trauma Committee and the Center for Behavioral Health. Designed to help staff provide support to patients in the ED with psychosis and/or substance abuse disorders, this toolkit provides access to articles, policies, management techniques, assessment tools and more. Click the topic tabs below to access resources and information.