LA County project highlights innovative potential of CalAIM initiative

The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) convened a meeting for the Behavioral Health Stakeholder Advisory Committee (BH-SAC) to discuss innovation in health services implementation. 

Chief among the agenda items was the recently released California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) initiative.  


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Broadly speaking, the CalAIM initiative aims to implement delivery system and payment reform for the Medi-Cal program. More directly, the plan is aimed at addressing public health issues such as homelessness and behavioral health access.

In keeping with one of the core tenets of the plan to improve behavioral health access, the example used to display the potential for innovations within the framework of CalAIM was the MLK Behavioral Health Center project in Los Angeles. 

The project will establish a Restorative Care Program to “provide a continuum of care with integrated residential, outpatient, and supportive services for some of Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable populations including those struggling with mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness.” 

To carry out the project, Los Angeles County is making use of an exemption from licensing requirements pursuant to the Welfare and Institutions Code, section 5768. The exemption exists so that local jurisdictions can operate rehabilitation centers to provide treatment for persons with mental disorders who were placed in state hospitals because no community placements were available.