For Low-Income Children, Access to Mental Health Care Varies Sharply by County

Statistics show kids and teens in Orange County use specialty mental health services at a lower rate than children in most other counties in the state. Fewer than 2 percent of Medi-Cal-enrolled youth under age 21 in Orange County consistently received a specialty mental health service in fiscal year 2015 to 2016.

At the other end of the spectrum are counties like San Francisco, where almost 5 percent of San Francisco’s Medi-Cal enrolled kids came into regular contact with the SMHS system in that time. While the percentage differences appear small, they represent potentially tens of thousands of kids in lower-performing counties who are missing out on mental health care.

Mental Health Care is Absent at Many California Community Colleges

California’s community colleges serve more than 2 million students annually, but mental health services are not widely available on many campuses. Even on campuses that do have mental health care, availability and services can vary widely.

The lack of access is especially concerning because, as a whole, the students who attend community colleges are at higher risk for mental health issues.

Give Youth an Escape Route from Addiction

Every time a young person who suffers from addiction reaches out for help, we have an incredible and precious opportunity to find the road back to the youth’s full potential. Wasting that opportunity isn’t just a waste of public dollars, it is a matter of life or death.

That is why my organization, the California Society of Addiction Medicine, is sponsoring legislation, Senate Bill 275, to create clear standards for youth substance use disorder prevention, early intervention and treatment.

Federal Changes to Health Care Hit California in the Form of Higher Insurance Premiums

Federal attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act will ratchet up California’s health insurance premiums next year, but the spike is below last year’s increase and premium hikes projected for many other states.

On average, premium increases for Covered California health insurance plans and those on the individual market will rise 9 percent in 2019, according to officials with the state’s health insurance exchange. That’s less than the 12.5 percent increase in 2018, but still more than double the region’s rate of inflation.

Few Low-Income Children Get Mental Health Care in California, Despite Need

In California, the state’s key program for providing mental health treatment to low-income children and youth under age 21 serves just a fraction of those estimated to need help, statistics show. And while the pool of children potentially eligible for these services has expanded under the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of kids actually receiving help has declined since 2010, a California Health Report analysis has found.

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