Calif. Senate Leader Readies Mental Health Service Expansion

The California Senate leader is proposing increasing mental health services to reduce how many end up in jail or ERs. In Massachusetts, officials plan greater scrutiny of how insurers cover mental health care.

Los Angeles Times: California Senate Leader Proposes Mental Health Program Expansions
State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on Tuesday proposed a plan to significantly increase mental health services in California with the goal of reducing the number of people ending up in prison, jail and emergency rooms. Steinberg said the plan is in response to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, in which a gunman killed 20 students and six adults, as well as a scandal involving a Nevada hospital dumping patients in other states, and the recent order by a federal court to further cut the number of inmates in California prisons (McGreevy, 5/7).

Boston Globe: State Vows Scrutiny For Insurers On Mental Health Coverage
Seven health insurance companies have agreed in recent years to pay the state and consumers $5.6 million for failing to cover mental health care and other services that state law requires. Last month, U.S. Fire Insurance Company agreed to pay $625,000, and Transamerica in March said it would pay more than $1.3 million after the state alleged the companies failed to cover maternity care, pap tests, mammography, preventive care for children, along with mental health services (Conaboy, 5/7).

And in Georgia, nursing homes have cut their "off-label" use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes --

Georgia Health News: Nursing Homes Rein In Use Of Antipsychotic Drugs
Georgia nursing homes have cut their "off-label" use of antipsychotic medications by 16 percent, the biggest reduction in the nation, industry officials say. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has pushed for a decrease in the use of antipsychotics in managing dementia patients in nursing homes. Prescribing these drugs for behavior problems is considered "off-label" use, meaning they are being employed in a way that's different from their FDA-approved purposes. Off-label prescribing is a legal and very common practice (Miller, 5/8).

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