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On Behavioral Health, ‘…No State More Capable…’

This post has been archived and contains information that may be out of date.

About a year ago, the Behavioral Health Action Coalition held a historic forum focused on mental health and substance use disorders in California, featuring then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. This week, in a much-deserved recognition, the coalition named Gov. Newsom a Behavioral Health Champion.

CHA co-founded Behavioral Health Action in 2018 with the National Alliance for Mental Illness, California, to lead a partnership of more than 50 organizations from health care, education, labor, law enforcement, local government, and business — all focused on eliminating stigma and engaging lawmakers to develop solutions to the behavioral health challenges faced by millions of Californians (check out all of our efforts here and here).

The coalition’s one-on-one conversation with Newsom shortly before his election to the governor’s office was a catalyst for something new in California: As lieutenant governor, he was the highest-ranking statewide official to meet with such a wide array of behavioral health professionals.

That forum was the beginning not just of a high-level public discussion about the needs of people who face behavioral health challenges — but also the beginning of meaningful statewide change. As he said then about the need for California to set an example for the nation, “[there is] no state more capable than this state to truly lead in this space.”

Once in office, Gov. Newsom quickly announced a first-ever special advisor on mental health care, Tom Insel, MD, who continues to advance the conversation on improving lives and innovating behavioral health care. And, the governor has — most importantly  — championed mental health funding on a statewide level.

This year’s state budget recognizes the need for mental health workforce development with $150 million, including $20 million for hospitals to use in emergency departments. It also includes $100 million for whole person care pilot programs, and $70 million for Medi-Cal integration programs.

We were grateful a year ago when he sat down to talk with us and pledged his commitment, and we are grateful now for the important steps he has already taken to help make California a global model for behavioral health.

To borrow from Gov. Newsom: “This is an issue that demands to be treated on par with physical health… and with a sense of urgency.”

Half of us will care for someone living with a mental health issue at some point in our lives. If we are to make good on our commitment to improve lives and relieve suffering, we need to continue to support leaders like Gov. Newsom who champion a better system to care for those with behavioral health needs.

— Carmela

CMS Issues First of Two CY 2020 OPPS Final Rules

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued the first of two separate regulations finalizing provisions for the calendar year (CY) 2020 outpatient prospective payment system. In the first final rule, released today, CMS raises hospital outpatient payments by 2.6% for CY 2020 and estimates this will increase overall outpatient payments by $6.3 billion compared to CY 2019.

Registration Open for CHA Conference Focused on Creating Innovative Care Partnerships

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Registration is open for the Creating Care Partnerships: Beyond the Continuum conference on March 2-3, 2020. Hosted by CHA’s Center for Post-Acute Care, the conference will highlight how hospitals are moving toward value-based care by reaching across and beyond the care continuum. 

This year’s agenda features “real-world” examples of innovative care partnerships that support effective care transitions and value-based care. In addition, clinical experts will address timely topics such as patient activation, the impact of mental health issues, and care for individuals experiencing homelessness.  

Tuition scholarships are available for anyone who has not attended a Center for Post-Acute Care Conference since 2016. The first 20 qualified recipients will receive an email confirming their status, limited to one scholarship per facility.

Hospitals Reminded of Employee Safety Obligations During Wildfires

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Wildfires pose many challenges for hospitals — evacuating patients, employee concerns for the safety of their family members, and exposure to wildfire smoke. As reported previously in CHA News, Cal/OSHA recently adopted emergency regulations governing employer obligations to employees exposed to wildfire smoke when the air quality index reaches 151.  

CHA Clarifies Hospitals’ Legal Requirement for Notifying First Responders About Disease Exposure

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CHA has recently received several requests for information about laws that require hospitals to notify first responders who may have been exposed to a communicable disease while caring for a patient. State law requires a hospital’s infection control officer to notify the employer of a prehospital care professional (emergency medical technician, paramedic, fire fighter, peace officer, and others) if a patient has a specified communicable disease that may have been transmitted to the first responder. 

CHA Board Holds October Meeting

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At its Oct. 24 meeting, the CHA Board of Trustees discussed current federal regulatory proposals, 2019 state legislative successes and anticipated challenges for 2020, and advised the CHA team on 2020 policy priorities. The board also continued an important conversation about health care affordability and the need for all-inclusive solutions that address and lower the cost of care, rather than simply reducing reimbursement.

Agenda Set for Summit on Caring for Patients Who Are Homeless

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The agenda for CHA’s Caring for Our Patients Who Are Homeless Summit — Dec. 11 in Riverside — will include unique approaches for discharging patients experiencing homelessness, ideas for helping to stop a generational cycle of homelessness, and other insightful discussions attendees can adapt for their own hospitals.