SACRAMENTO – California Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) advanced Assembly Bill 769 out of the Health Committee this week, according to her office.
AB 769 would eliminate the hiring disincentive among Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Centers by allowing for reimbursement through Medi-Cal for covered mental health services that Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors provide. As a result, the bill would also expand access to mental health services.
“There is so much we need to do to ensure folks in our community struggling with mental health issues are afforded the resources and services they need,” Smith said in a statement. “This bill would address the gaps in our healthcare workforce and support people throughout California, especially in rural and remote areas.”
Currently, there is inequity among mental health providers. Under existing law, psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists are eligible for reimbursement for services they provide. LPCCs — parallel, fully qualified and trained mental health professionals who already offer important services to FQHCs and RHCs — are left out of the Medi-Cal reimbursement mechanism.
“I am proud to author AB 769, which properly recognizes LPCCs for the incredible work they do for our communities,” Smith said. “I’m hopeful this bill will create avenues for Californians to prioritize mental health.”
AB 769 enjoyed bipartisan, unanimous support from Health Committee. It now heads Appropriations Committee for a vote.
Smith represents California’s 38th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Agua Dulce, Castaic, Santa Susana Knolls and North San Fernando Valley.