Access

Still Grappling With Provider Access Issues, State Pours More Money Into Denti-Cal

In an ideal world, Jennifer Kent would like to have added 1,000 new dentists across California willing to accept enrollees in Denti-Cal, the state’s low-income dental program, over the past year. Kent, director of the California Department of Health Care Services, the agency that manages the program, has had to settle for a much more modest number: 73 new dentists.

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.

In San Joaquin, Two Medi-Cal Health Plans Struggle to Improve Quality

Two health plans that serve low-income residents in the Central Valley have consistently failed to meet state standards, recent reports show.

Health Net of San Joaquin and Health Plan San Joaquin, which serve nearly a quarter million Medi-Cal patients combined, failed to meet the state’s minimum performance levels for Medi-Cal health plans since at least 2016.

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.

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