CSAC Bulletin Article

CSAC Health and Human Services Legislative Update

July 7, 2022

Last Friday, July 1, marked another big deadline for the California Legislature. Policy committees held their final hearings for the legislative session before adjourning for Summer Recess. As the Legislature breaks before returning August 1st to finish out the session, we want to update you on key health and behavioral health legislation of interest to counties:

SB 1338 (Umberg): Sponsored by Governor Newsom, SB 1338 would create the new Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court Program designed to provide effective treatment and long-term plans for those suffering with psychotic disorders. Under the proposal, counties would play a key and substantial role in implementation as the state’s partners in providing critical behavioral health, social services, and housing resources. As shared in the recent

Budget Action Bulletin, CSAC continues to voice concerns with the proposal, as the amount of funding and resources provided for the program remains unclear, and the new duties and responsibilities as outlined in the bill are estimated to cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Additional policy provisions remain unresolved, including a deliberative phase-in schedule for counties, sanctions, and housing access and availability for participants. The bill is currently pending in Assembly Appropriations Committee. In addition to SB 1338, there are a number of bills related to conservatorship reform moving through the Legislature. CSAC staff will provide an update on these bills in next week’s bulletin.

AB 988 (Bauer-Kahan): This measure would implement a statewide 9-8-8 mental health crisis hotline as required by federal law. The bill requires the California Health and Human Services Agency to designate 988 call centers for crisis intervention services and coordination, appoint a 988 crisis services director, and convene a state 988 policy advisory group to advise the agency on the administration of mental health crisis services. The bill also requires the California Office of Emergency Services to convene an advisory board to create standards for connecting the 988 system with California’s 911 system. AB 988 includes an approximate $8 million appropriation to support the new system in the first year. To support ongoing costs, the measure establishes a new surcharge capped at $0.30 per access line per month. AB 988 is currently pending in Senate Appropriations Committee. CSAC will continue to advocate for sufficient funding to implement 988, including resources to operate mobile crisis teams and serve the expected influx of clients into the county specialty mental health system.

AB 1737 (Holden): AB 1737 seeks to strengthen safety regulations for children enrolled at “children’s camps” throughout the state. CSAC was opposed to a previous version of this bill, which would have placed the enforcement and regulation of children’s camps on local health departments. However, the bill has since been heavily amended to instead require the Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, along with the Director of Social Services, to convene an agency workgroup for the development and implementation of a master plan for children’s camp safety. The workgroup will be required to meet with stakeholders, including local health departments, to create a licensing and regulatory framework for children’s camps. CSAC appreciates the amendments by the author and has removed its opposition to AB 1737, which is currently pending in Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 2724 (Arambula): Last week, Governor Newsom signed AB 2724, the fast-tracked legislation authorizing the Department of Health Care Services to enter into a direct statewide contract with Kaiser Permanente to provide care for certain Medi-Cal beneficiaries. As shared in a recent CSAC bulletin article, the author accepted amendments to alleviate some concerns, including clarification that the new contract would be limited to areas where Kaiser already has a commercial presence to ensure Kaiser does not rely on safety net providers instead of Kaiser providers. CSAC also appreciates the amendments that require Kaiser to enter into memoranda of understanding with local agencies pursuant to Medi-Cal managed care contract requirements. However, CSAC remained concerned about the impact the new contract could permit Kaiser to bypass local planning and oversight of Medi-Cal managed care services and counties’ ability to ensure access to quality care for California’s most vulnerable residents.  

SB 443 (Hertzberg): As reported in a CSAC bulletin article last week, SB 443 was pulled from the hearing agenda prior to its policy committee hearing at the request of the author, effectively killing the bill. The measure attempted to overturn decades of statutory and case law that repeatedly affirmed county responsibility for medical control of local emergency medical service systems. CSAC is grateful for the quick mobilization of counties and county affiliates who submitted opposition to SB 443 almost immediately after it went into print.

SB 972 (Gonzalez): This measure establishes additional flexibility for cottage food operations. The bill was recently amended to address concerns that the bill would erode core public health and safety requirements. With the recent amendments, SB 972 strikes a balance between ensuring economic opportunities for street vendors while maintaining the ability for local agencies to ensure the oversight and enforcement of public health protections. CSAC joins a coalition lead by the California Association of Environmental Health Administrators (CAEHA) who has removed opposition to SB 972.   


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