News of the Week: California has too few behavioral health professionals

NewsFebruary 15, 2018

Each week we share articles on subjects that are important to NUHW and its members. Here are several must-read stories over the past seven days:

A new report, funded by the California Health Care Foundation, forecasts a substantial shortage of qualified and diverse behavioral health professionals in California within 10 years, leaving minority patients and those outside major metropolitan areas especially underserved. If nothing is done to fill the void by 2028, many people diagnosed with mental health conditions will struggle to get the medication and counseling they need, especially those who live in the Central Valley and Inland Empire, where the lack of qualified workers is worse, the researchers found.

On the same day that the Trump Administration announced it had no plans to extend the March 5 deadline for when DACA recipients will lose their legal protection and work permits, NUHW members and their colleagues at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland rallied outside the hospital in solidarity with the Dreamers.

The bipartisan budget bill that passed the U.S. Senate last week will raise spending meant to address the opioid and mental health crisis by $6 billion over the next two years. The dollar amount falls roughly in line with recent proposals from Democrats and Republicans who had advocated for between $2 billion and $4.5 billion in additional funding for addiction treatment and prevention each year for the next decade.

As more poor people are forced into the suburbs, they are finding it harder to receive the medical care they need. One study found that about a fifth of the suburban poor are uninsured, and many who do have health insurance — especially people on Medi-Cal — either can’t find providers or must travel far for appointments.

The Trump Administration wants to add a question to the 2020 U.S. Census asking if the respondent is a U.S. citizen. This has raised fears that non-citizens won’t respond to the census for fear of deportation. As a result, California could lose a congressional seat because its non-citizen population would be undercounted.