Davis Should Sign All ‘Good’ Mental Health Reform Bills, Los Angeles Times Says
Gov. Gray Davis (D) took a "significant step" to address the number of California residents with mental illness who go untreated each year by signing a bill (AB 1424) that will "close a big hole in the state's safety net," a Los Angeles Times editorial says (Los Angeles Times, 10/6). Sponsored by Assembly member Helen Thomson (D-Davis), the measure would mandate access to medical records and testimony from family members and treatment providers prior to hospitalizing people with mental illness (California Healthline, 10/4). This would "add depth" to what are often "cursory" evaluations by doctors, judges and hearing officers, the editorial says. But Davis is still debating an "equally meritorious mental health reform bill," SB 1059, which would "reverse a destructive cycle" by requiring prisons to notify counties when they are releasing a mentally ill inmate, the editorial says. The editorial notes that fewer than one-third of mentally ill inmates released each year receive follow-up care. Sponsored by Sen. Don Perata (D-Oakland), the bill would create a Council on Mentally Ill Offenders, under which law enforcement and mental health officials would help "money-starved counties set up community-based mental health treatment programs using untapped federal Medicaid dollars," the editorial says. Although Thomson and Perata "know better than most that their bills can barely make a dent in the state's daunting mental health problems," the editorial concludes, "[U]ntil politicians get the gumption to do the top-to-bottom overhaul of the system that's needed, Davis should sign every good measure that comes his way" (Los Angeles Times, 10/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.