Treasurer Fiona Ma Announces $15.7 Million in Grants For Mental Health Services for Children and Youth

Posted: April 30, 2021

SACRAMENTO – California State Treasurer Fiona Ma announced that over $15 million in grants have been awarded to nine California counties under the Investment in Mental Health Wellness Grant Program for Children and Youth (CY Grant Program).

This competitive grant program funds facility acquisition, construction and renovation costs, furnishings and equipment acquisition, information technology costs and applicable program startup or expansion costs for crisis residential treatment facilities, crisis stabilization facilities, mobile crisis support teams, and family respite care programs.

Chapter 30, Statutes of 2016 (SB 833), Section 20, expanded the Investment in Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013 to specifically address a continuum of crisis services for children and youth, 21 years of age and under.

"There has been a great need for mental health crisis services for children and youth throughout the state of California," said Treasurer Ma. "This need has grown even more so now due to the COVID-19 pandemic."

The California Health Facilities Financing Authority’s (CHFFA) board, which is chaired by Treasurer Ma, awarded approximately $15.7 million in grant funds to nine California counties (Contra Costa, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Riverside, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Tulare) to add nine crisis residential treatment beds, 24 crisis stabilization beds, eight mobile crisis support teams and a family respite care program for the benefit of eleven counties (the Counties of Del Norte and Trinity are expected to benefit from the project in the County of Humboldt). Details on county awards are illustrated in the table above: 

Mental Health
Amid pandemic hardship, two new laws expand mental health coverage 

By Quinci LeGardye • California Black Media 

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two bills into law that expand mental health coverage in California. 

 “The bills I am signing today will help Californians access the behavioral health services they need to recover,” Gov. Newsom said. “Earlier this year, I pledged to put these critical services within reach of more Californians, through reforming our Mental Health Services Act and laws that allow loved ones and service providers to ask courts to compel those who need treatment into community-based outpatient care. Today, we do just that.”

 SB 855 passed through the state legislature on the last day of the session and was signed into law Sept. 25. The bill requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment deemed medically necessary.  

“It’s time for every Californian to have access to comprehensive and preventative mental and physical health care. SB 855 is a big step toward ensuring that in California, mental health is taken as seriously as physical health. It’s time for insurance companies to fully cover this essential treatment,” said State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). SB 855 was co-authored by Wiener, State Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), chair of the Mental Health Caucus, and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters).

This new law comes at a time when many Californians have faced mental health challenges due to psychological stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, released Aug. 14, found that 40% of respondents reported struggling with an adverse mental health condition in late June. Out of about 5,400 respondents, 30% experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression and 13% had started or increased substance use to cope with emotions related to the pandemic.

According to the CDC survey, psychological stressors have a disproportionate effect on Black and Brown people, essential workers, unpaid caregivers and young adults. Also, low-wage earners were experiencing more anxiety and depression than high-wage earners. “Unfortunately, there are gaps in the law that have allowed insurance companies to deny what is clearly medically necessary coverage for people experiencing mental health and addiction challenges,” said Senator Wiener earlier this month.

There has been a long history of health insurance plans providing better coverage for physical illness than for mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, although federal parity law requires that coverage for mental health and substance-use disorders must be comparable to physical health coverage, the law does not require that all plans include mental health and substance abuse coverage. Also, a health insurance plan is allowed to exclude certain diagnoses. 

The same day, the governor signed another bill, AB 1976, into law. That legislation, introduced by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), expands the use of court-ordered outpatient treatment at the county level. It also prohibits counties from downsizing those programs.   

“The Assisted Outpatient Treatment demonstration project started by Laura’s Law has shown for many years that we have the tools to provide effective, community-based mental health treatment to those with the greatest need. As a social worker I’ve long fought for the extension of these critical services and expanding this program. Finally making it permanent will ensure greater care for the people of California,” said Eggman. Supporters of both bills praised the governor for signing them. Many of them joined Eggman in pointing out that the new policies are long overdue.

 “No one should have to suffer from mental illness or substance use disorder without support, resources and medical care. No one should have to forego mental healthcare until they’ve deteriorated to the point where they’re in crisis and in the ER. And no one should have to go into debt to pay for substance use disorder or mental health treatment,” Wiener said in his statement.

Health
Dr. Myrchia Minter-Jordan Joins Blue Shield of California's Board of Directors

Nonprofit health plan continues to lead in diversity and gender equity at the highest levels of the company
Posted: January 6, 2021

 Myechia Minter-Jordan, M.D., MBA

 OAKLAND, Calif. – Blue Shield of California announced Myechia Minter-Jordan, M.D., MBA, has joined its board of directors, making the governing body of the nonprofit health plan a majority of women for the first time in its 82-year history. Dr. Minter-Jordan is president and CEO of DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement and Catalyst Institute, a nonprofit organization working to improve overall health of individuals, families and communities through better oral health. She also co-founded the Community Care Collaborative, the nation’s largest Medicaid Accountable Care Organization comprised of 19 Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) in Massachusetts serving over 100,000 patients.

“My passion lies with community health and the key role it plays in the American health system, which is also at the heart of Blue Shield of California’s nonprofit mission,” Dr. Minter-Jordan said. “I’m honored to join Blue Shield’s board of directors and help transform our healthcare system into one that delivers high-quality care that’s sustainably affordable for everyone.” 

Her appointment follows last fall’s election of Kristina (Kris) Leslie as the first woman to chair the health plan’s board. Blue Shield’s board of directors is now comprised of seven women and six men.



Health News

“It’s an exciting time to join an innovative company like Blue Shield of California,” Leslie said. “Dr. Minter-Jordan’s expertise and knowledge will help us greatly, and we all look forward to working with her to transform health care in California and beyond.” Prior to joining DentaQuest in 2019, Dr. Minter-Jordan spent 12 years at Dimock Community Health Center, including serving as president and CEO. Dimock is the second-largest health system in the Boston area. She graduated from Brown University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University Carey School of Business, where she also worked as an attending physician and instructor of medicine.

Blue Shield of California is a leader in diversity and gender equity, with four of the five standing board committees now being led by women. The health plan also achieved pay equity for its employees across gender and ethnicity in 2018, has a balanced representation of women and men in leadership roles (Director and above), and it was recently selected as one of America’s Best Companies for Women to Advance by Parity.org.