CA Legislation summaries are available from ACCESS's advocacy tab.

SB 906 - Medi-Cal: Mental Health Services: Peer Support Specialist Certification (Beall 2017)

Current Action: 6/20/18 In the 2ndt house (Assembly), Re-referred to Committee on Appropriations with Amendments

Support: Steinberg Institute (sponsor)

American Civil Liberties Union of California

Association of California Healthcare Districts

Association of Community Human Service Agencies

Bay Area Community Services

California Access Coalition

California Alliance of Child and Family Services

California Association of Local Behavioral Health Boards and Commissions

California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations

California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems

California Association of Social Rehabilitation Agencies

California Behavioral Health Planning Council

California Coalition for Mental Health

California Youth Empowerment Network

Children Now

Corporation for Supportive Housing

County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California

Disability Rights California

Jed Foundation

Juvenile Court Judges of California

Mental Health America of California

Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission

NAMI California

National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter

Project Return Peer Support Network

Western Center on Law and Poverty

Several other organizations & individuals


Oppose: None on File



Summary: This bill has been seen as controversial in our office since the beginning. Because of our extensive experience with providing peer support, we recognize the importance of developing relationships between patients and their peer support specialist. The newest amendments remove the stipulation that a peer be within a similar age group or situation and that is problematic if a single young adult is the “peer support” for family members of a dependent older adult going through psychological trauma or vice versa. Additionally, having to meet federal requirements for Licensed Supervisors for Peer Support Specialists will affect effective peer-run support programs already in place. The implementation of a Peer Support Specialist certification to keep up with the rest of the U.S. is a good thing, however passing any bill is not better than passing the best drafted bill. We support it with amendments to be more specific about categories of Peer Support Specialists.


Historical Context: Peer Support in Mental Health Recovery is an evidence-based proven method of reducing the rates of hospitalizations, and relapse in recovery as an individual carries on after their initial mental break. Nearly 45 states in the U.S. already have a Peer Support Program implemented in their mental health system and is an integral part of the recovery method as compared to the medical approach toward mental health that increases success rates and provides valuable social support to those experiencing mental health issues for the first time.

SB 1004- Mental Health Services Act: Prevention and Early Intervention (Wiener 2017)

Current Action: 6/20/18 In the 2nd house (Assembly), Re-referred to Committee on Appropriations with Amendments


Support: Steinberg Institute (sponsor)

American Academy of Pediatrics, California

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

America's Physicians Groups

Association of Community Human Service Agencies

California Association of Veteran Service Agencies

California Medical Association

California Psychiatric Association

California School-Based Health Alliance

California State PTA

California State Student Association

California Health+ Advocates

Children's Defense Fund- California

Disability Rights California

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids

First 5 Association of California


Juvenile Court Judges of California

Racial and Ethnic Mental Health Disparities Coalition (if amended)

Numerous other Organizations & Individuals

Oppose: California Association of Area Agencies on Aging (unless amended)

California Behavioral Health Directors Association (unless amended)

California Commission on Aging (unless amended)

California Women's Law Center (unless amended)

MAGNA Systems Incorporated (unless amended)

Muslim American Society – Social Services Foundation (unless amended)

Native Directions Inc./Three Rivers Indian Lodge

Neighborhood Wellness Foundation (unless amended)

Union of Pan Asian Communities – EMASS (unless amended)

Numerous other Organizations & Individuals



Summary: This bill was opposed by many, unless amended, for good reason. The PEI plans targeted youth only. Their opposition states that the exclusion, by omission, of other communities (communities of color, LGBTQ, veterans, foster youth, adults, and older adults) is too limiting for effective PEI programs for susceptible folks. And I think this is why Steinberg also included recommendations for SB 192 to target youth PEI programs. The new amendments in the bill still focus primarily on youth and young adults, however there is some mention of older adults and underserved communities but not of direct services that would address their needs. I think it could be argued that they are a part of "vulnerable populations" that will be a focus according to the community. It seems that the State mandated PEI program implementation would be in addition to county efforts to fill gaps and save money in the long run, "$1 spent on PEI saves $2-10 in service charges later on."  It feels like a better bill after amendments were made.


Historical Context: In practice, counties have not been reverting unspent funds to the state and the Department of Health Care Services has not enforced the current law requirement for counties to do so. Currently, there is about $120 million in unspent Services Act funding that was allocated prior to 2012-13 which should have been reverted to the state, but which has not been reverted by the counties.


Who will be implementing it: MHSOAC, Local Agencies

Fiscal Impact: One-time costs, likely in the low hundreds of thousands, for the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to create program guidelines and allocate funding under the bill (Mental Health Services Act Reversion Fund). Most of the cost of allocating funds and overseeing county spending is likely to happen in the first few years and then decline as is discussed below.

Potential one-time costs in up to $150,000 for the Department of Health Care Services to revise existing regulations and processes relating to reversions of Mental Health Services Act funds (Mental Health Services Act Reversion Fund).

One-time spending of about $120 million in reverted funds for new prevention and early intervention programs by counties (Mental Health Services Act Reversion Fund). Once the existing balances of funds subject to reversion are exhausted, it is not likely that there would be significant amounts of funding that would revert to the state.

(Source: Senate Appropriations Committee)

Prop 63/Mental Health Services Act (2004)

The passage of Proposition 63 (now known as the Mental Health Services Act or MHSA) in November 2004, provided California with its first opportunity in many years to provide increased funding, personnel and other resources to support county mental health programs and monitor progress toward statewide goals for children, transition age youth, adults, older adults and families.  The Act addresses a broad continuum of prevention, early intervention and service needs and the necessary infrastructure, technology and training elements that will effectively support this system.



California Mental Health Parity Law 
A health plan must cover the same or equal benefits for certain mental health conditions that it covers for other medical conditions. This is called “mental health parity.” It is a law in California.For example, if your plan offers prescription drug benefits, whether drugs are prescribed for a mental health or medical condition, they must be covered at the same rates. The co-payments, deductibles, and maximum lifetime benefits charged for mental health conditions must be the same as those for medical conditions.The Mental Health Parity Law ensures the same medical care coverage for the following mental health conditions:

  • Major depression

  • Bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder

  • Panic disorder

  • Anorexia

  • Bulimia

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder

  • Schizophrenia

  • Schizoaffective disorder

  • Children’s severe emotional disturbance


Your Rights under mental health parity

  • You have the right to coverage for the diagnosis and medically necessary treatment of severe mental illness under the mental health parity law.

  • You can change your doctor or other mental health provider if you are not satisfied.

  • You can see and get a copy of your medical records. You can add your own notes to your records.

  • You have the right to keep your medical information private.

  • You can get a second medical opinion when you are given a diagnosis or treatment option.

  • Read more information about your health care rights.



AB 1121 – Transgender Name Changes and Birth Certificates

In 2013, the Transgender Law Center co-sponsored AB 1121 (along with Equality California), a bill authored by California Assemblymember Toni Atkins. This new law will make legal name and gender changes more accessible in California. The first phase of this new law will go into effect on January 1, 2014, when transgender people born in California will be able to obtain a gender marker change on their birth certificate through a simpler administrative procedure rather than through a court order. (To change the name on a birth certificate, a certified copy of a court order granting the name change will still be required).Under the old law, to change the gender marker on a California birth certificate, a transgender person had to first go through a lengthy and expensive process, including an in-person hearing in court, to get a court order recognizing their change of gender, before the state would update the gender marker on their birth certificate. Starting January 1, in order to change the gender marker on a California birth certificate, you’ll simply need to submit a declaration from a licensed physician (rather than a court ordered gender change) directly to the state’s Department of Vital Statistics. This will be particularly helpful for people born in California who currently live outside the state.Effective January 1, to amend a gender marker on a California issued birth certificate, submit the following documents:


  1. VS 24 Form:You must order the form from the Department of Vital Statistics

  2. A $23 dollar fee (it was raised from $20 to $23 in January, 2014). Fees should be paid by check or money order payable to CDPH Vital Records.

  3. A photocopy of your current birth certificate.

  4. An affidavit from a doctor attesting that you have undergone clinically appropriate treatment for gender transition. The law requires that the affidavit include the signature and license number of the physician.


The affidavit does not need to be notarized.


The processing time for amendments can be located on the Department of Vital Statistics website.


The Department of Vital Statistics will be issuing a new “Gender Reassignment Pamphlet” before the end of the year that will be available here.


The second phase of AB 1121 will take effect on July 1, 2014, with a new streamlined process for obtaining a court-ordered legal name change in California. This part of the new law will eliminate the current requirement that transgender Californians publish a notice of their name change in a newspaper before they can obtain a court order granting the name change.


If you have questions, please contact

Mental Health Legislation

PHONE | (916) 366-4600

     FAX | (916) 855-5448

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