AB 1299’s “Follow The Child” Funding Provisions Provides More Equitable Access For Out-of-County Foster Youth Without Adding New State Costs
AB 1299 (Ridley-Thomas) is scheduled to be heard by the California State Senate Appropriations Committee today. Access to federally mandated mental health services has been delayed or denied for foster youth placed out-of-county for many years. AB 1299 (Ridley-Thomas) ends this inequity by shifting responsibility for providing mental health services to the county where a foster child resides. As amended, the bill also ensures that counties are timely reimbursed for providing mental healthcare by creating a mechanism for funding to “follow the child.” More than 65 organizations across California are in strong support of this bill and AB 1299 has been unopposed through the entire legislative process to date.
In preparation for today’s hearing, the Appropriations Committee Consultant completed an analysis of AB 1299. While the analysis accurately captured the nature of the problem AB 1299 attempts to solve, it substantially overstates the bill’s likely fiscal impact.
Although increased service utilization of Medi-Cal specialty mental health services is anticipated (and intended), funding for these services is already provided in the 2011 Realignment Local Revenue Fund. The bill does not alter the counties’ present obligations or duties or increase the level of services required. Rather, the bill eliminates the present inequitable denial of mental healthcare to foster youth that violates the counties’ existing contractual responsibilities as well as state and federal Medicaid law. Rather than triggering additional state spending, AB 1299, as amended, would facilitate allocation of existing funds to “follow the child,” and thereby ensure that counties that incur added costs are fully and timely reimbursed, and that foster youth receive timely access to appropriate care, regardless of where they are placed.
While there will be modest administrative costs for coordination and policy development, there should be no added state costs for additional mental health services. The modest administrative costs will result in more equitable treatment of thousands of foster youth and substantially reduced the state’s potential liability for the continued failure to provide required Medi-Cal mental health services to eligible beneficiaries.
Young Minds sent our response to the fiscal analysis of AB 1299 to the State Senate Appropriations Committee this morning, which is available here. Thank you to those who contacted the committee members to express support for AB 1299.
There’s still time to show your support – check out yesterday’s action alert for more information about how you can help!