This edition of “5 Things We’re Watching” features a look at CalHHS’s new data exchange framework, a Q&A with Le Ondra Clark Harvey, PhD, CEO of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, about California’s implementation of the national 988 crisis hotline, and details on a November ballot initiative to codify abortion rights in the state constitution.
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State of Reform
1. CalHHS releases data exchange framework
Per the requirements of AB 133—last year’s health omnibus bill that outlined a path to a statewide health data sharing arrangement—CalHHS released its Data Exchange Framework, Data Sharing Agreement, and initial set of Policies and Procedures earlier this month. General acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities are required to participate in the agreement by Jan. 31st, 2023, and have real-time data sharing in place one year after. All other facilities will need to have this in place by Jan. 31st, 2026.
CalHHS simultaneously released a set of policy recommendations to supplement the framework. Recommendations for increasing engagement with the statewide data sharing agreement include establishing an EHR incentive program to get more providers to participate, and further funding the state’s currently inconsistent HIT infrastructure so all agencies are able to electronically share health information.
2. Q&A: Dr. Le Ondra Clark Harvey talks 988
Following last week’s go-live date of the national 988 suicide prevention hotline, State of Reform spoke with Le Ondra Clark Harvey, PhD, CEO of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, about how California is implementing the new crisis number and how it will better serve those in crisis. She explained that California’s 13 existing NSPL call centers—4 of which Harvey’s organization operates—offer an ideal launching pad for the new 988 call line.
With an anticipated higher call volume through the new national line as well as ongoing, pandemic-induced increases in mental health crises, Harvey said a sparse behavioral health workforce remains the biggest obstacle to success for the state’s call centers. Other remaining challenges include ensuring interoperability between 988 and other systems like 911, as well as building off of the state’s recent investment in the service to continue financially supporting it.
3. What They’re Watching: Janice Rocco, California Medical Association
As the Vice President for Health Care Access and Coverage at the California Medical Association, Janice Rocco says she’s primarily concerned with getting physician practices back up on their feet. A simultaneous decrease in revenue and an increase in cost for things like PPE and hiring staff are making it hard for these providers to stay afloat and keep up with demand, Rocco explains.
“We’ve done surveys of our membership and we know that even at the end of 2021, the majority of physician practices had less staffing than they had pre-pandemic. And that’s at a time when they’re trying to help patients get their needed medical care that they may have forgone at some point earlier in the pandemic.” Rocco discusses ways CMA has been trying to resolve this issue, including by working with the state to establish the CalVaxGrant program, which provides needed financial support to practices that provide the COVID-19 vaccine.
4. State leaders approve abortion rights ballot initiative for November
California voters will decide whether or not to enshrine the right to an abortion in the state constitution this November after Gov. Newsom’s executive order to establish the ballot initiative SCA 10 was approved by the Assembly on June 27th. “We know we can’t trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution. Women will remain protected here,” reads a joint statement from Newsom, Senate Speaker pro Tempore Atkins, and Asm. Speaker Rendon.
The approval of SCA 10 comes several days after Newsom’s signing of AB 1666, which prevents other states’ abortion laws from applying in California. Other pieces of legislation from the state’s abortion rights package have recently advanced in the legislature, including a bill to establish a Reproductive Health Service Corps and a bill to prohibit the release of abortion-related medical information for prosecution purposes.
5. Report provides insight for improving AA/NHPI health
Of the 13% of Asian American Californians who reported having mental health issues last year, only 46% of them said they received the care they needed. 54% of AAs said they experienced financial stress resulting from being the caregiver for their family, and 11% suffered physical or mental health problems as a caregiver. AAPI Data recently released a policy report offering recommendations to improve the health of AA/NHPI Californians, which include improving state-to-local care coordination and providing family caregivers with in-language support.
The report recommends increasing the AA/NHPI community’s awareness of public programs, as NHPI seniors are the racial demographic with the lowest enrollment in Medicare, and AA seniors are less likely than white seniors to be enrolled. Another recommendation is to create more opportunities for trusted CBOs to partner with the government and pursue initiatives to improve the health of the AA/NHPI populations.