Steinberg Releases Plan To Boost Mental Health Care in California
On Tuesday, California Senate Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) released a proposal that aims to improve mental health services in the state and reduce the number of patients with mental illnesses in prisons and hospitals, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
Steinberg said he was motived to develop the proposal by "heart-breaking and often tragic" situations that involve individuals with mental illnesses.
He cited a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in December 2012, recent investigations of a Nevada psychiatric hospital's practice of busing patients to other states and a decision made last month by federal judges to maintain a court-mandated reduction of California's prison population in part to help improve inmates' mental health services (Van Oot, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/7).
Details of Steinberg's Proposal
The proposal would:
- Add 2,000 crisis treatment beds in residential facilities as an alternative to more costly emergency department treatment;
- Deploy 200 more mental health triage workers to help arrange mental health treatment, housing and education services for individuals with mental illnesses; and
- Create 25 Mobile Crisis Support Teams to help individuals at homeless shelters, jails and clinics obtain short-term crisis care.
According to the Times, the proposal is supported by law enforcement and mental health officials, such as Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal and Steve Fields, executive director of the Progress Foundation in San Francisco (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 5/7).
Steinberg's Proposal Follows Release of Brown's Prison Plan
Steinberg released the proposal a few days after Gov. Jerry Brown submitted a plan to reduce the state's prison population ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/7).
The changes called for in Brown's plan include:
- Paroling inmates who are elderly or medically incapacitated;
- Increasing the use of drug treatment centers; and
- Increasing early releases or "good time" credits to inmates, including those with serious prior convictions (California Healthline, 5/3).
Steinberg said that although his proposal might not satisfy the federal judges' prison population order, it likelyÂ would reduce the number of total inmates, as well as the recidivism rate for inmates with mental illnesses, over time.
He said, "Ultimately, if we are going to reduce overcrowding over the long term, we have to provide more effective, cost-effective ways to keep people who leave the prisons and jails from returning" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/7).
Cost of Proposal
Steinberg said that he has not yet calculated the cost of the proposal. However, he said that some of the provisions can be paid for by revenue from Proposition 63, a 2004 tax measure that funds mental health programs (Los Angeles Times, 5/7).
He added that the state also could use grant funding offered by the California Endowment, general fund revenues and federal fundingÂ related to theÂ Affordable Care Act ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/7).
Broadcast CoverageOn Tuesday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on Steinberg's proposal (Adler, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 5/7). 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.