Kaiser Health News
Originally published March 14, 2018
A statewide tax on the wealthy has significantly boosted mental health programs in California’s largest county, helping to reduce homelessness, incarceration and hospitalization, according to a report released Tuesday.
Revenue from the tax, the result of a statewide initiative passed in 2004, also expanded access to therapy and case management to almost 130,000 people up to age 25 in Los Angeles County, according to the report by the Rand Corp. Many were poor and from minority communities, the researchers said.
“Our results are encouraging about the impact these programs are having,” said Scott Ashwood, one of the authors and an associate policy researcher at Rand. “Overall we are seeing that these services are reaching a vulnerable population that needs them.”
The positive findings came just a few weeks after a critical state audit accused California counties of hoarding the mental health money — and the state of failing to ensure that the money was being spent. The February audit said that the California Department of Health Care Services allowed local mental health departments to accumulate $231 million in unspent funds by the end of the 2015-16 fiscal year — which should have been returned to the state because it was not spent in the allowed time frame.
Proposition 63, now known as the Mental Health Services Act, imposed a 1 percent tax on people who earn more than $1 million annually to pay for expanded mental health care in California. The measure raises about $2 billion each year for such services, such as preventing mental illness from progressing, reducing stigma and improving treatment. Altogether, counties have received $16.53 billion.
The information is here.