California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

California Community Clinics Integrate Mental Health, Clinical Care

Many California community clinics are using health reform law funding to transition to a medical home model, HealthyCal reports.

Under the medical home model, low-income patients are able to access primary care, pharmacy services and specialty care -- including mental health and substance misuse services -- in one place.

Community Clinic Efforts

In January, four Santa Cruz County clinics began participating in a pilot public health program -- called MediCruz Advantage -- that expanded eligibility for the county's Medicaid program so beneficiaries no longer need to have a specific condition to receive care. MediCruz is Santa Cruz's Medicaid program.

Leslie Goodfriend -- the MediCruz Advantage manager for Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency -- said, "The intention behind the medical home is that people can see a doctor, not just when they're at death's door or when they have an acute situation."

Meanwhile, 14 California counties have been participating in the Low Income Health Program, and another 13 counties plan to authorize their own LIHPs.

The program, which is part of the federal health reform law's "bridge to reform," allows counties to expand access to care prior to provisions of the federal reform law taking effect in 2014.

Potential Effects of SCOTUS Decision

Although California counties are moving forward with reform efforts, health care reform and the associated federal funding will be dependent on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of the overhaul.

Leslie Tremaine -- mental health director for Santa Cruz County -- said that Santa Cruz County will continue working to integrate behavioral health care with clinical care but that the loss of federal funds would significantly hinder access and comprehensive health coverage (Flynn, HealthyCal, 4/29).

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