Assembly Health Committee Approves Calderon Bill Setting Minimum Standards for Youth Mental Health Data Platform

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Sacramento, CA – The Assembly Health Committee approved Assembly Bill 385 today with bipartisan support. AB 385 is a measure authored by Majority Leader Ian Calderon which requires the California Department of Health Care Services to develop a platform, or integrate within an existing platform, to improve mental health outcomes for young people receiving Medi-Cal mental health services.

“California agencies need to employ technology to support vulnerable populations and help them reach their full mental health potential,” stated Majority Leader Calderon. “The inability to access up-to-date data on a young person’s mental health progress is problematic for the individual and at a system level."

Low income young people under the age of 21 can access specialty mental health services through Medi-Cal, based on qualifications. In California, approximately 124,000 young people access these services through the Department of Social Services (DSS) and 260,000 young people access these services through the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).

In 2011, the legislature passed AB 1009 requiring each department to choose an assessment tool to track young people’s progress in mental health wellness. Collectively, the departments chose the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment. After finalizing an assessment tool, the DSS began an effort to revolutionize CANS data collection by creating an online, up-to-date cloud based data platform. In contrast, the DHCS has not yet taken this opportunity to fulfill the intent outlined in that legislation.

Without an integrated data platform, providers waste time relaying patient information and may miss the opportunity to provide complementary treatment plans. A young person may be unnecessarily reassessed because a provider is unaware of previous mental health assessments. At a system level, individual counties cannot make fully educated fiscal decision without up-to-date data about the outcomes of young people being treated by different health care service providers.

AB 385 requires the California Department of Health Care Services to develop, update, or integrate with an existing platform, a plan to collect CANS assessments to provide real-time data about youth mental health. The bill sets minimum standards for the platform to provide real-time data and ensure the security of patient privacy.

Contact: Lerna Shirinian (562) 692-5858