Mental Health Bill to Make Funds More Flexible Passes With Unanimous Vote

Senate Bill 1273 Grants Greater Flexibility in Use of Mental Health Services Act Funds
Thursday, April 21, 2016

(Sacramento) –Today, the Senate passed legislation by Senator Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) – Senate Bill 1273 –  with a 38-0 vote that gives county personnel greater flexibility over the use of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) 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.

"I am greatly encouraged that the Senate recognized the importance and critical need for SB 1273 today.  SB 1273 will empower and equip counties with another valuable tool to approach the mental health crisis we are facing," Moorlach said. "This bill benefits our police officers, first responders and our emergency rooms that have been over-burdened."

Currently, Orange County just has ten beds for emergency mental health crisis situations to serve the county's 3.1 million residents. Consequently, public safety officers must, many times, take on the role of transporters rather than first responders. The simple clarification provided by SB 1273  provides not only Orange County, but other counties up and down the state, 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 wonderful health care providers and organizations 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 now goes to the Assembly. 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.