GRAY DAVIS: Governor Signs Mental Health Legislation
Gov. Gray Davis (D) on Tuesday signed several measures designed to improve treatment and care for the disabled and mentally ill, the Los Angeles Times reports. Among the "most significant" measures was AB 2034, sponsored by Assembly member Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), which will expand state funding for a community mental health outreach program created last year, which now provides care for 900 severely mentally ill patients in Los Angeles, Stanislaus and Sacramento counties. AB 2034 will expand the program to allow other counties with independent public health programs to be eligible for the funding. Rusty Selix, director of the California Mental Health Association, said, "We wanted to take it from a pilot program in a few counties to throughout the state." Davis had included the extra funding in his budget. Davis signed other mental health-related bills, including AB 2161, sponsored by Assembly member Edward Vincent (D-Inglewood), which will permit marriage and family therapy interns to provide mental health treatment services under the supervision of a more experienced superior. The bill also allows interns to access patients' mental health records. Davis also signed two bills by Assembly member Dion Aroner (D-Berkeley) that provide medical equipment under Medi-Cal for low-income parents of disabled children. The bills also allow community mental health centers to access additional sources of state funding (Bustillo, 9/20).
Davis Signs Legislation
Other health-related bills Davis recently signed include:
- SB 1452: Sponsored by Sen. Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley), the bill requires counties in the Children's System of Care program to coordinate services with other programs that target 15- to 21-year-olds. Those counties must develop plans for the youth as they transition out of the program;
- SB 1755: Sponsored by Sen. David Kelley (R-Idyllwild), the bill requires the Department of Health Services to consider care provider and Department of Mental Health advice when comparing mental illness medications (Office of the Governor release, 9/19);
- SB 1766: Sponsored by Sen. Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata), the bill extends to FY 2001 and subsequent years a funding methodology for clinic reimbursement through the Expanded Access to Primary Care Program;
- AB 2103: Sponsored by Assembly member Virginia Strom-Martin (D-Duncan Mills), the bill establishes eligibility requirements for clinics that receive funding from DHS for providing care to migrant and rural farm workers;
- AB 2902: Sponsored by the Assembly Health Committee, the bill amends the Alfred E. Alquist Hospital Seismic Safety Act regarding the sunsetting of an existing statutory provision. Without the law, an entire article of the act would have been repealed Jan. 1, 2001 (Office of the Governor release, 9/18).
Davis Vetoes Legislation
Davis also recently vetoed the following legislation:
- AB 1969: Sponsored by Steinberg, the bill would have required a long term care mental health working group to devise a plan for developing certain long term care facilities. In his veto message, Davis said that the 2000-2001 budget did not include funds for such a purpose, adding that the bill duplicates existing law requiring the Department of Mental Health to conduct an independent evaluation of mental health rehabilitation centers;
- AB 2501: Sponsored by Assembly member Carl Washington (D-Compton), the bill would have required the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs to implement a three-year project to grant federal funds to alcohol and other drug treatment networks in certain counties. In his veto message, Davis said the plan does not comply with federal statutory provisions governing the use of the grants and would negatively impact other alcohol and drug prevention services (Office of the Governor release, 9/18);
- SB 179: Sponsored by Sen. Deirdre Alpert (D-Coronado), the bill would have "slightly expanded" funding for the state's Healthy Start programs (Los Angeles Times, 9/20). In his veto message, Davis said that the bill represents a "significant departure" from the state's plan to provide Healthy Start with "seed" money for five years, after which time the programs were expected to be self-sustaining (Office of the Governor release, 9/19);
- SB 1451: Sponsored by Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), the bill would have allowed college graduates entering mental health care professions to receive a break on repaying their student loans if they agreed to work in poor areas. In his veto message, Davis said that the state has a "greater need" for primary care providers and other health care workers in low-income areas (Los Angeles Times, 9/20).