SB 803 establishes a Peer Support Specialist certification program for behavioral health services and adds peer support services as a Medi-Cal covered benefit for counties that choose to provide this important service.
California peers all over the state must feel a lot more validated now for the contributions that they have been making and make toward mental health and wellness.
Peers have been working on systemic recognition of the value of peer support services, not only for the four years that peer certification bills have been introduced into the legislature, but long before. You could say, from the time they informally provided mutual support for each other and realized their potential for helping each other, peers have envisioned and worked toward this.
Thank you, Governor Newsom, for signing SB803 and Senator Beall for authoring the bill! Watch the signing of SB803 (along with three other bills) during a session recorded LIVE the morning of September 25.
Principle author Senator Jim Beall, Principal Co-author Assemblymember Marie Waldron, Co-authors Senator Wiener and Senator Wilk Assembly members Aguiar-Curry, Arambula Aguiar-Curry, Grayson, Ramos and Wicks CAMHPRO a co sponsor
Senator Jim Beall Champions Mental Health Legislation to Certify Peers
Today, long-time mental health champion Senator Jim Beall introduced legislation SB 803 to create state certification for mental health care providers known as Peer Support Specialists.
Last year, Senator Beall’s bipartisan effort, SB 10, made it to the Governor’s desk with unanimous votes, where it was vetoed. Sen. Beall is reintroducing this legislative initiative as an effort to make strategic, cost-effective reforms to California’s mental health programs.
“Statewide certification of Peer Support Specialists will ultimately save the state money while improving mental health outcomes. The Governor and I have the same goals- help people and use our resources wisely. SB 803 will improve our system in an ongoing, sustainable way.”
A peer is a person who draws on lived experience with mental illness and/or substance use disorder and recovery, bolstered by specialized training, to deliver valuable support services in a mental health and/or substance use setting. “It is time that peers are validated as an essential and professional part of the behavioral health workforce” asserts Sally Zinman, Executive Director of California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations (CAMHPRO).
The state is facing a shortage of qualified mental health professionals to ensure all Californians receive care. Peer Support Specialists are a much needed addition to the workforce.
Dr. Jonathan Sherin, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, emphasized that LA County is ready to take action. “LA County looks to expand upon and professionalize its peer support programs in a sustainable manner which will not be possible until we secure statewide certification and a reliable reimbursement mechanism. Leveraging lived experience through peer support is critical to the service transformation we need in California. The state must make the most of every resource available to address our mental health crisis; recognizing and resourcing Peer Support Specialists statewide will be a wise investment.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and 48 states have a certification process in place or in development for mental health peer support specialists. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released guidance in 2007 for establishing a certification program for peers to enable the use of federal Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) financial participation with a 50% match.
Studies show that peers contribute to the ability of people with mental illness and substance abuse to obtain education and employment, contributing to the California economy rather than depending on social safety nets alone.
“Research demonstrates that the utilization of qualified peer support specialists has measurable benefits to clients including reduced hospitalizations, improved functioning, and alleviation of depression and other symptoms. The time has come for California to embrace peer support as an evidence-based model and put in place a certification program that will standardize best practices” stated Maggie Merritt, Executive Director of the Steinberg Institute, a Sacramento-based non-profit mental health public policy institute.
In California, demand for peer services is growing, but there is no statewide scope of practice, training standards, supervision standards, or certification.
“California has an important opportunity to deliver quality, cost-effective, evidence-based mental health services and add diversity to our mental health workforce by certifying Peer Support Specialists,” said Michelle Doty Cabrera, executive director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California (CBHDA). “While California faces a severe shortage of mental health professionals needed to serve our diverse communities, the specific services delivered by trained, supervised peers have shown to improve client outcomes and reduce costs at the same time. But California can only realize these benefits for our mental health clients in Medi-Cal if we join the 48 states that have already recognized the effectiveness of Peer Support Services through certification.”
SB 803, The Peer Support Specialist Certification Act of 2020 establishes a statewide certification program for peer support specialists and provides the structure needed to maximize the federal match for peer services under Medi-Cal.
The legislation is applauded by a broad and large coalition of supporters, and is sponsored by California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations, County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California, County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, and Steinberg Institute.
*From the website*
Joint accomplishments include urgently addressing California’s affordability crisis by passing the Nation’s strongest statewide rent protections, expanding health care coverage and passing legislation to lower prescription drug prices
Focused on effective government by fortifying state against natural disasters and economic downturns – passing historic wildfire safety legislation and creating largest rainy day fund Ensuring justice for all Californians by passing historic clean drinking water legislation and taking on powerful institutions on behalf of everyday Californians
“Together, we have accomplished a great deal this year to help California families get ahead and made historic progress on some of the state’s most intractable challenges.”
SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom took his final actions of the 2019 legislative season today and thanked the Legislature for their work and accomplishment on enacting 870 bills in the following statement:
“I want to take a moment to congratulate the Legislature on their work this year and to thank Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon for their leadership. Together, we have accomplished a great deal this year – through the budget and legislation – that helps California families get ahead and tackles some of the state’s most intractable problems.
“This year, California passed the nation’s strongest renter protection package. Our state made record housing and homeless investments paired with big new tools for housing production. We moved California closer to universal health care coverage by expanding coverage, increasing Covered California subsidies for middle-income Californians and taking on rising prescription drug prices.
“California, faced with catastrophic wildfires, invested $1 billion to prevent, mitigate and recover from wildfires, disasters and emergencies. And in July, our state enacted something that few people thought could be done – wildfire legislation that moved California closer to a safer, reliable and affordable energy future.
“Our state is doing more now than at any point in our history to help California families tackle the challenges of affordability and provide opportunity to all Californians – more than doubling tax cuts for working families, expanding paid family leave, increasing access to early childhood education, and taking on payday lenders.
“On education, California brought disparate sides in the education community together and forged a historic agreement on changes to charter school law that was years in the making. We invested more in K-14 education than at any point in our history, and put on next year’s ballot the chance to make long-overdue investments in school infrastructure and safety. California made two years of community college tuition-free, increased financial aid for parents pursuing a college degree and kept tuition from rising in our UC and CSU systems.
“We have helped defend our state from Trump’s attacks – blocking the Administration from using state lands to open up drilling on protected federal lands. We took on the long-standing challenge of clean drinking water systems, became the first ever to require SMOG tests for semi trucks and convinced four major auto-makers to stand up for higher emission standards and oppose the Trump administration.
“California is once again striking out against injustice and leading the nation by example. We passed one of the country’s strongest police use-of-force laws, and outlawed private, for-profit prisons. California became the first state in the nation to stand up to the NCAA’s long-standing profiteering from student athletes. California took first-in-the-nation steps to strengthen our gun safety laws, protect workers and defend reproductive health care rights. We continued to make progress reforming our criminal justice system – eliminating a major mandatory minimum sentence and establishing a system to seal arrest and conviction records for low-level offenses.
“We are proving that our state is successful not despite our diversity, but because of it. California isn’t just defending our vibrant immigrant communities. We are affording all Californians – regardless of immigration status – the chance to serve their communities and give back.
“In California, we are putting in place new reforms of agencies that don’t serve the public as well as they should – pushing the DMV to join the 21st century, giving new authority to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to enforce wildfire safety standards, and recasting the priorities of our state’s agency that regulates oil and gas extraction.
“California did all of this while living within our means: creating the largest rainy day fund in California history, paying down pension liabilities and eliminating our state’s wall of debt.
“In my inaugural, I spoke of the California Dream as a house – one that must be built on a strong fiscal foundation. For that reason, I am returning a number of bills to the Legislature without my signature that would significantly increase costs outside of the state’s regular budget process.
“We have clearly achieved a great deal together, and I commend the Legislature for their hard work. I look forward to our continued partnership as we head into the new year and continue to tackle challenges of affordability and work to expand opportunity to all Californians.”
In his final action of the 2019 legislative season, the Governor today vetoed a number of bills that would significantly increase costs outside of the state’s regular budget process. In total, Governor Newsom vetoed bills this year costing $1.2 billion, increasing to $3 billion annually at full implementation. He also took action on a number of other bills.
Thank you so much for your patience- we have a new Assembly Health committee date for SB 10- Tuesday July 2 at 1:30 pm in room 4202. We will be up first. Please come and show your support- this will be our last policy committee hearing and we want it to be big!
Senator Beall’s office has sent the following message:
“SB 10 (Beall) will be heard in Assembly Health Committee Tuesday, June 11 1:30 p.m. — State Capitol, Room 4202. Please come and express your support for peers. As you know, though this policy has broad bipartisan support, it has been vetoed twice in the past so it’s important to send a loud a clear message that we need SB 10 signed into law!
The Assembly committees will only accept support letters through the Advocacy portal. Please take a moment to personalize the attached template, or update your current letter and please make sure support letters are uploaded through the Advocate Portal
SUBJECT: Mental health services: peer support specialist certification
SOURCE: Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission Steinberg Institute
This bill requires the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to establish a program for certifying peer support specialists; requires DHCS to amend its Medicaid state plan and to seek any federal waivers or state plan amendments to implement the certification program; and permits DHCS to implement, interpret, and make specific the certification program through available means, as specified, until regulations are adopted.
READ FULL ANALYSES Senate Floor_5-21-19 SENATE RULES COMMITTEE Office of Senate Floor Analyses
Fax: (916) 327-4478
SB 10 will be heard at the Appropriations Committee
Monday April 8, 2019.
ANTHONY PORTANTINO, Chair
10 a.m. – John L. Burton Hearing Room (4203) at Capitol
Dear Senator Portantino,
The Steinberg Institute is a leading nonprofit public policy institute that supports and encourages effective and comprehensive mental health policymaking. We are the proud sponsors of SB 10 (Beall) that would call upon the state to standardize high-quality peer and family support services. READ ENTIRE LETTER
Eric Bailey now works for Sacramento’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, using his lived experience with bipolar disorder to help connect people suffering from mental health issues to the care they need.
California lawmakers are considering a bill that could help build a workforce of people living with mental illness to help guide others in need of services toward care.
When Eric Bailey landed in a San Diego hospital after a mental health crisis in 2013, he says he was at the end of his rope.
“At the moment of being ready to discharge, I had zero idea what I was doing,” he said. “I had no vehicle there at the time, my wife was leaving me, I’d lost my job, I was losing my apartment as well.”
Bailey didn’t know where to go. Then a stranger approached him and told him he’d been in that same psychiatric ward, and that he could help. READ FULL ARTICLE
Following emotional testimony from supporters
The Senate Health Committee Wednesday Unanimously passed SB 10 (Senator Jim Beall)
which would establish a certification process for peer providers of mental health and substance abuse services. Peers are people who draw on experiences with mental illness and/or substance use disorder and recovery, bolstered by specialized training, to deliver valuable support services in a treatment setting.
Across California, peer providers are already used in many settings. However, there is no statewide standard of practice, consistent curriculum, training standards, supervision standards, or certification protocol in California, which now one of only two states (the other is South Dakota) that does not have peer certification. Yet peer support programs have emerged nationwide as an evidence-based practice with proven benefits to both peers and the clients they assist, including reduced hospitalizations, alleviation of depression and enhanced self-advocacy.
A peer support program also creates a career ladder so that consumers and family members working in mental health care have the opportunity to fully contribute, translating their experience into meaningful employment.