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May 29, 2002

For More Information, Contact:
Kristina Loquist at (916) 651- 4011


SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that legislation to streamline state accounting and reporting requirements for mental health service providers has passed off the Assembly Floor and is headed to the Senate. Assembly Bill 2296, authored by Simitian, will reduce the time and money mental health providers spend on duplicative paperwork and administrative reporting, so that those resources may instead be devoted to providing mental health services to patients in need.

“In a tough budget year, it’s more important than ever to look for ways to help mental health service providers serve their clients more efficiently,” said Simitian.  “Eliminating duplicative state bureaucracy while preserving accountability will free up resources that are better used to provide mental health care.”

“I support accountability to our funders but, there are too many unnecessary hoops that folks have to jump through in order to get reimbursed for the mental health services they provide,” explains Gale Bataille, the director of Mental Health Services for the County of San Mateo. “Assemblyman Simitian understands this, and his bill will help us focus our limited resources on clients, not paperwork.”

Although there are great demands for mental health services in California, there is a serious shortage of both financial and human resources to meet this demand.  As a result of the downturn in the economy and California’s current budget shortfall, scarce dollars will be stretched even farther.

AB 2296 establishes the Mental Health Services Paperwork Reduction Act to maximize the availability of scarce mental health dollars for direct services, and to minimize the paperwork required from mental health providers to access those funds, while still ensuring the fiscal integrity of the program.

“Assembly Bill 2296 is a responsible way to strengthen California’s mental health services during a period of fiscal uncertainty,” said Simitian. “It requires the Department of Mental Health to eliminate unnecessary and redundant reporting requirements.”

If enacted, the Department of Mental Health has six months to confer with interested parties and to make recommendations about streamlining paperwork required for Medi-Cal, EPSDT/Medi-Cal, Short-Doyle Medi-Cal, CalWorks Mental Health, Victim Restitution Program, Healthy Families, child abuse treatment, alcohol and drug treatment, and county mental health programs.