California Health and Human Services

Health and Human Services Agency Announces Formation of Governor Newsom’s Behavioral Health Task Force to Address Urgent Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Need

Formation of task force follows Governor Newsom’s release of 2020-21 State Budget Proposal

The Governor’s Budget includes $45.1 million General Fund for a Behavioral Health Quality Improvement Program to build counties’ behavioral health service delivery systems in preparation for the launch of Medi-Cal Healthier California for All

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: January 21, 2020
CONTACT: (916) 654-3304

SACRAMENTO – Following the unveiling of his budget proposal with its robust focus on improving behavioral health services, the California Health and Human Services Agency announced the formation today of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Behavioral Health Task Force to address the urgent mental health and substance use disorder needs across California. The panel will advise the Administration’s efforts to advance statewide behavioral health services, prevention, and early intervention to stabilize conditions before they become severe.

“Behavioral health services and wellness are essential to living a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life,” said Governor Newsom. “All Californians should be able to get the mental health and substance use disorder assistance they need when they need it. We must also prevent these conditions when possible, and intervene early to reduce their severity, particularly among younger Californians.”

The task force, chaired by California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, will consist of a broad range of stakeholders, including people living with behavioral health conditions — including mental health and substance use disorders, family members, advocates, providers, health plans, counties, and state agency leaders.

“While California has made great strides in offering health care coverage to more and more residents, too many of our neighbors — with private and public health care coverage — are struggling to access the timely mental health and substance use disorder treatment that they need now,” said Secretary Ghaly. “There is no question that the inability to get mental health and substance use disorder treatment exacerbates California’s ongoing homelessness crisis. We can – and must – do more.”

The mission of the task force is to develop recommendations for the Governor about how California can best provide timely access to high-quality behavioral health care for all of its residents. The task force will include representatives from both the public and private sectors to align efforts to address behavioral health challenges from a public health perspective. What’s more, the task force will inform and bolster the state’s work to prevent mental health and substance use disorders and ensure that health and social service providers are able to intervene early to stabilize conditions before they become severe.

In addition to creating the Behavioral Health Task Force, the Governor’s budget prioritizes behavioral health by including a $695 million appropriation in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, growing to $1.4 billion in 2021-22, for Medi-Cal Healthier California for All, which proposes to provide a wider array of services and supports for Medi-Cal patients with complex and high needs, including those with mental health and substances use disorders.

The budget also includes $45.1 million General Fund for a Behavioral Health Quality Improvement Program to build counties’ behavioral health service delivery systems in preparation for the launch of Medi-Cal Healthier California for All. Improvements include enhanced data-sharing capability for care coordination and establishing the foundational elements of value-based payment such as data collection, performance measurement, and reporting.

The California Health and Human Services Agency released a brief application form for stakeholders and community members who would like to be considered for membership in the task force. The form is posted at the Behavioral Health Task Force web page, and applications are due February 7, 2020.

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