The ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic has had numerous effects on behavioral health, including illegal substance use, budgetary concerns, and the use of telehealth. Here, we take a look at some of the behavioral health and addiction treatment-related news specific to California.
Changing Opioid Supply Poses Additional Risks as COVID Restrictions Relax
Law enforcement officials and addiction experts say that the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders have changed the availability and prices of illegal opioids across the nation. Drug users may be at risk as they adjust to these changes.
For example, addiction specialists in Orange County, Calif., say that many clients have seen disruptions in their drug supplies due to travel restrictions. Although drug users obtained illegal opioids from other sources, the drugs provided by the new dealers would often have a different strength that caused more overdoses and fatalities.
Elinore McCance-Katz, head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also notes that many first responders are fearful of administering naloxone due to the possibility of COVID-19 exposure. The agency, she says, has begun to deploy training teams to help communities safely administer naloxone while managing exposure risk.
California Providers Receive $13M in Telehealth Grants From Health Net
Health Net of California, the state’s largest Medi-Cal managed care plan, is providing 138 grants, totaling $13.4 million, to help California healthcare providers expand telehealth programs for Medicaid recipients. Most of the money is intended for providers with limited or no telehealth infrastructure.
Specifically, the grants are aimed at addressing the increasing need for telemental health services. Funds will help develop and expand connected health platforms for Medicaid patients dealing with behavioral health concerns, including substance abuse.
California Governor Revises Budget Proposal
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has submitted a 2020-21 May revision of the state budget to the Legislature as part of an effort to close an expected budget gap of more than $54 billion due to the COVID-19 recession. Part of the proposed budget includes $1.3 billion to counties for health and human services programs, including behavioral health. The revision also proposes cutting an expansion of Medi-Cal to post-partum individuals diagnosed with a maternal mental health condition who are not otherwise covered.
New Study Looks at Screening, Intervention, and Referral for Substance Use in California Counties
New research shows that screening and brief intervention for unhealthy alcohol and other substance use may reduce the frequency of heavy drinking and stimulant use. Researchers compared Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), a motivation-based brief intervention with personalized feedback, with a health education session.
This study included 718 adults in two mental health treatment systems in Ventura County and Los Angeles County in California. Study participants had a mental health diagnosis and were either heavy drinkers, cannabis users, or stimulant users. The full study has been published in Addiction.
Choosing the Right Tools for Your Practice
Behavioral health and addiction treatment providers in California will be addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for months, and possibly years, into the future. Prepare for changes in demand, treatment approaches, and revenue with an EHR solution built specifically for behavioral health. Contact the team at BestNotes to learn how we can help you streamline your practice so you can improve patient outcomes, reduce stress, and increase revenue.