Mental Health and Substance Abuse in CA’s Public Health Programs
|August 30, 2012||Posted by Lucien Wulsin under Legislation/Policy, Medi-Cal, Public Coverage, State||
California has had a unique mixture of behavioral health silos that are going to need to evolve under the Affordable Care Act. In this paper, we will try to summarize its current state, the needed evolution and the benefits to patients and their improved health outcomes.
 California spends over $4 billion on mental health services through Medi-Cal; the largest part ($2.1 billion) is through county mental health plans, the smallest part is through Drug Medi-Cal ($400 million) and the rest is through regular Medi-Cal ($1.6 billion). County mental health plans are the sole source for specialty mental health care. Regular Medi-Cal pays for psychotherapeutic drugs (roughly $1 billion) and mental health services (about 4% of visits) provided by community clinics, and primary care physicians and other professionals. Drug Medi-Cal pays for limited treatments, such as methadone for those with heroin addictions. Technical Assistance Collaborative, California Mental Health and Substance Use System Needs Assessment (February, 2012) at http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/provgovpart/Pages/BehavioralHealthServicesAssessmentPlan.aspx