Bill Making Mental Health Funds More Flexible Clears Committee with Bipartisan Support

Senate Bill 1273 Grants Greater Flexibility in Use of Mental Health Services Act Funds
Thursday, April 14, 2016

Yesterday, the Senate Health Committee approved legislation by Senator Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) – Senate Bill 1273 – that gives county personnel greater flexibility over the use of Mental Health Services Act funds for outpatient crisis stabilization services. The bill is co-authored by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) and other legislators.

"With SB 1273, we have a chance to provide another tool in the toolbox for counties on how they can approach the mental health crisis we are facing," Moorlach said. "Our police departments, often the first responders to people in mental health crisis, will have additional options on how to handle each patient. And, our emergency rooms will be less over-burdened."

At present, Orange County only has ten beds for emergency mental health crisis situations with its 3.1 million residents. This simple clarification in state law provides not only Orange County, but other counties, the flexibility to better fund outpatient care, as well as help ensure that patients in mental crisis can receive prompt, therapeutic care at proper facilities, rather than the hospital emergency room.

"I am honored to have so many health care providers in support, as well as the endorsement of former Senator Darrell Steinberg – the author of Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act and founder of the Steinberg Institute, as he understands the necessity," Moorlach said.

SB 1273, which received strong bipartisan support, goes next to the Senate Floor. The bill is supported by the Steinberg Institute, County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California, California Psychiatric Association, American College of Emergency Physicians-California Chapter, California Emergency Nurses Association, St. Joseph Hoag Health System, St. Joseph Hospital, Hoag Memorial Presbyterian, St. Jude Medical Center, Tenet Health, Orange County Medical Association, California State Association of Counties, Urban Counties of California, County of Orange, City of Newport Beach, League of California Cities-Orange County, California State Sheriff’s Association, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association and others.