“I’m desperate for this bill to get signed” – KQED reports on SB 221

NewsOctober 5, 2021

KQED’s The California Report on Monday featured a story about SB 221, a landmark bill authored by State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, that would reduce wait times for mental health and addiction medicine appointments to no more than 10 business days — unless a treating clinician determined that a longer wait would not be detrimental.

Listen to the full story below:

Greta Christina, a San Francisco woman, told KQED that she typically has to wait five-to-six weeks between appointments with her therapist at Kaiser Permanente.

“To tell someone with serious chronic disabling depression that they can only see their therapist every five or six weeks, is like telling someone with a broken leg that they can only see their physical therapist every five or six weeks,” Christina said. “It’s not enough. it’s not even close to enough.”

Appointment wait times are typically two months at Kaiser’s Vallejo clinic, Brandi Plumley, a triage therapist at the clinic told KQED.  “It’s heart-breaking, and it eats at me day after day after day.”

To help improve access to care, Plumley talked to Assembly members in support of SB 221. The bill, which was sponsored by NUHW and backed by a broad coalition of of mental health professional and advocacy organizations, ultimately passed Assembly 76-0 and the State Senate 35-1, and now sits on Gov. Newsom’s desk.

Christina, who has not been able to get more frequent care, despite recently being diagnosed with breast cancer, told KQED that she is counting on Gov. Newsom to sign SB 221 into law. “I’m desperate for this bill to get signed.”