Briefs & Reports

HMA Contributes to CPEHN Report on California’s Mental Health Equity Act

California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Principal Jeff Ring and Senior Consultant Helena Whitney recently coordinated and facilitated an advisory committee which provided recommendations for the implementation of California’s Mental Health Equity Act (AB 470, 2017). Using the Advisory Committee recommendations, they developed the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) report, “Measuring Mental Health Disparities.”

AB 470 was proposed to mandate the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) update the performance and outcome reporting system on mental health outcomes and utilization for beneficiaries receiving Specialist Mental Health Services in order to focus the Performance Outcomes System (POS) on disparities. Following the passage of the statute, CPEHN created an Advisory Committee of behavioral health and healthcare experts to develop recommendations for the DHCS to consider during its stakeholder engagement process.

After reviewing DHCS’ existing data and quality measures, the Advisory Committee identified data elements that the state performance outcome reporting system on mental health should include to further the work of tracking mental health disparities and achieving health equality.

Also considered was information obtained through interviews with selected subject matter experts who directed the Advisory Committee to additional performance measures and datasets, such as those currently in use by health plans that are participating in state and national pilot programs such as the Public Hospital Redesign and Incentives in Medi-Cal (PRIME) Program, the Health Homes for Patients with Complex Needs Initiative, and the Whole Person Care Program.

Special consideration was given to measures that were (1) developed by nationally-recognized organizations such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance and the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Consortium, (2) are endorsed by the National Quality Forum, (3) are widely used by other states, (4) and/or are cited in the literature as “disparity-sensitive,” meaning that the measurements help identify inequities in health outcomes and access to services.

Per the requirements of the statute, the Advisory Committee organized its measure recommendations into two phases:

  1. Those that are currently available from county mental health plans or the state and should be included in the initial POS reports (“Phase I”).
  2. Those that could be added to county reporting systems and/or may be available from Medi-Cal managed care plans and should be included in future POS reports (“Phase II”).

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