Widespread mental health reform needed

Published: Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 - 4:10 pm

Re "Mental health lessons from Sandy Hook" (Viewpoints, Gary Tsai, Dec. 14): Five decades ago, the federal government enacted Medicaid, sharing the cost of mental health treatment but only if care was community-based. To maximize funding for what historically was state cost, the California Legislature capped county-initiated hospitalizations, changing its criteria from a need for treatment to posing a danger. Congressman Tim Murphy, R-Penn., plans on fixing Medicaid's complicity in what has caused so many tragedies. On the anniversary of Sandy Hook, he introduced legislation to reform the Medicaid proviso. His effort should be supported by the entire California congressional delegation. But California also has fixes to do: It must revise its criteria for hospitalization. Likewise, counties must implement California's Assisted Outpatient Treatment code, aka Laura's Law. This is an evidence-based alternative that reduces the need for many hospitalizations. Waiting for danger is just too late.

-- Carla Jacobs, Tustin

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