Expanding mental health care

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron

I am a strong advocate for expanded access to healthcare, including mental health and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatments. These issues fre­quently come before the Assem­bly Health Committee, where I serve as Vice Chair.

This session I introduced As­sembly Bill 1944, which seeks to create a safe pathway for pa­tients with rare and ultra-rare diseases seeking investigation­al treatments designed just for them, despite the usual costly and extremely time-consuming FDA approval process. I also supported SB 496, which re­quires health insurers includ­ing Medi-Cal to cover biomarker testing that results in target­ed therapy for diagnosis and treatment, therapies that have proven very effective for cancer patients.

I serve on the Select Commit­tee on Fentanyl, Opioid Addic­tion, and Overdose Prevention. Thousands of lives lost in San Diego County, many from acci­dental overdoses, could be saved if antidotes were readily avail­able. Last year I introduced AB 1233, which facilitates the availability of opioid antagonist drugs (antidotes) in tribal com­munities, many of which have been ravaged by the fentanyl crisis.

California’s mental health needs are staggering, but the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) hasn’t been signifi­cantly changed in 20 years. Al­most one in seven adults (about 4.4 million people) and one in 14 children (about 621,000) ex­perience some form of mental illness. One in 26 adults and one in 14 children have trouble functioning in their daily activi­ties. Necessary MHSA updates include expansion of services for those suffering with SUDs, al­lowing MHSA funding for SUD treatments, and additional com­munity support for prevention and early intervention.

Mental health and SUDs are major contributors to homeless­ness and crime. Expanding care may be costly up front, but soci­etal benefits of less crime and recidivism, reduced homeless­ness and restored lives will be incalculable. We have to get a handle on these problems — there is no alternative. Dur­ing my remaining time in the Legislature, those efforts will continue.

For an electronic version of this article, please visit: https://ad75.asmrc.org/

Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R- Valley Center, represents the 75th Assembly District in the Cali­fornia Legislature, which includes the cities of Poway, Santee, por­tions of the City of San Diego, and most of rural eastern and northern San Diego County.


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