California’s mental health crisis: What went wrong? And can we fix It?

California’s mental health crisis: What went wrong? And can we fix It?


California Gov. Gavin Newsom is steering a major transformation of California’s behavioral healthcare system, with much at stake in the years ahead. On Oct. 6, the Sacramento-based publication Capitol Weekly invited KHN’s Angela Hart to moderate an expert panel tackling the origins of the state’s broken system and potential solutions ahead.

The lively discussion featured healthcare leaders with deep experience in the political, provider and research aspects of mental health and addiction. The panelists were Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of MLK Community Healthcare; former state Sen. Jim Beall, a Santa Clara County Democrat who spearheaded mental health legislation during his tenure in the legislature; Michelle Doty Cabrera, executive director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California; and Janet Coffman, a researcher and faculty member with Healthforce Center at the University of California-San Francisco.

The discussion illuminated challenges that arise when the state puts insurance companies in charge of delivering critical health services, while also providing an overview of the ambitious policy changes the Newsom administration is pushing.

Click here to find a podcast of the full event. Hart hosts the first of three panels.

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



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