May 4th, 2016


California SMI Coalition-CaSMI-Co

Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Office of the Governor
California State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Oppose “No Place Like Home” Bond Debt


Dear Governor Brown:

We ask that you consider our thoughtful opposition to a budget plan that would divert vital funds from treatment of serious mental illnesses. A Senate bond plan would indebt the state for 30 years, while depriving more Californians of any hope for independence. The human logjam for California’s most severely psychiatrically disabled population is at critical mass. This is the target population that voters were promised would receive treatment and supportive housing back in 2004, with passage of Prop 63, the Mental Health Services Act/MHSA. However in 2016, this population is still housed in prisons, jails, state hospitals, their families’ back bedrooms, roach motels and graveyards in addition to a percentage that are homeless. 

There is no doubt that there must be a radical redesign of the current systems in order to stop wasting money and lives. However, the California Senate’s  “housing first” plan is not the bold action needed and it is not legal or affordable. A Steinberg/DeLeon proposal, “No Place Like Home,” would authorize $2 Billion in state bonds and indebt the Prop 63 fund. The purpose of the Prop 63 debt is to construct housing for all homeless Californians. However, Steinberg and Senate supporters ignore a former Attorney General Opinion* that explains why Prop 63 funds may not be used to fund housing construction.  

This AG opinion clearly cites the provisions that dedicate funding for CA WIC 5600.3 Systems of Care treatment for children, adults, and older adults. Advisors tell us that housing bonds would risk legal challenges based on this opinion. The 2016 proposal by Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin DeLeon goes beyond the earlier violations identified by the AG opinion by proposing to take money from the mental health system to fund housing development with no guarantee that it will target the Prop 63 population entitled to treatment services. And, the proposal creates debt that is not clearly defined or publicly vetted.

Based on the information released, the MHSA fund could end up paying back $3.9 Billion for a ‘housing first’ plan, an idea to reduce homelessness already tried and failed. California mental health systems have no money to spare for this unlawful plan. The state must first develop and fund a system of care that provides “medically necessary treatment” for serious mental illnesses under the same terms as that for physical illnesses and other disabilities.   

This housing plan to combat homelessness is set to come before the Senate in a June Budget Bill and must be opposed. ‘No Place like Home’ is a slogan, not a plan, seemingly predicated on the belief that “if you build it they will come.” But housing first, and treatment later, is bound to fail. Those suffering the delusions, paranoia, and cognitive disorganization of severe mental illness may not be able to utilize housing until and unless they receive treatment. Intensive support services and treatment for chronic and severe mental illness must go hand-in-hand with housing.

The only bold action required by the governor and the legislature is to keep the original promise to the Prop 63 voters and follow the law to fully fund a system of care for the WIC 5600.3 population. The legislature, governor and Mr. Steinberg are in a position to help rein in Prop 63 spending and instead invest in developing an accountability system. This is the only Prop 63 repurposing identified by the Governor’s Department of Finance, the CA State Auditor, and Little Hoover Commission reports. 

The undersigned have combined our regional efforts across numerous counties to unify our voices and establish a California SMI Coalition (CASMI-Co). This coalition is dedicated to ending the delivery system gaps for California’s population with serious mental illnesses. After 11 years and over 16 Billion dollars in MHSA Revenue we find that the CA mental health system is more impacted, more fragmented and more divided.


We call for clear reforms of Prop 63 expenditures to keep the promise to voters to guarantee an entitlement to treatment first.
Respectfully,
CaSMI Coalition (CaSMI-CO)
Signature page attached
Cc:
Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom
Senate President Pro Tem De Leon
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon
Senate Minority Leader Jean Fuller
Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes
Senator Emeritus Darrell Steinberg  
Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland)
Senator Holly Mitchell (D- Los Angeles)
Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)
Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose)
Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys)
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento)
Department of Finance Director Michael Cohen
Department of Finance Chief Counsel K. Krogseng
Office of State Audits and Evaluations, Assistant Chief, Cheryl McCormick
Health and Human Services Program Budget Manager, M. Paulin
Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana S. Dooley

*Read the AG Opinion here: 


June 14, 2016


Statement by Rose King and Teresa Pasquini, Co-Founders of Mental Illness FACTS and

Right 2 Treatment:

As co-founders of the grass roots organization, Mental Illness FACTS-Family and Consumer True Stories, we support a strong HR 2646, Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.


We believe HR 2646 will support our California mission and campaign for Right 2 Treatment for serious mental illnesses for people who are disabled. And, it will honor and help the family members who have been shackled by the system in trying to support their loved one's health and care.

In 2010, we formed an action partnership committed to bringing about equal rights to treatment of serious mental illnesses in the public mental health systems of California.  Mental Illness FACTS © is a strategy to properly fund treatment of serious mental illness while respecting both family and consumer priorities. True stories expose the tragedy of the discriminatory, unaccountable system, which lacks standards of care and invites undue political influence. As family members, we know the punishing effects of inequity in health and care for our loved ones.

HR 2646 has helped to show that our national, misguided state/federal policies and political interests are diverting treatment funds to subsidize other social programs, legitimate and frivolous alike. Mental Illness F.A.C.T.S. support policies that ensure the integrity of public mental health spending, and an equal entitlement to treatment of mental and physical illnesses. We support funding direct services in demand by consumers and families, paying for quality medical staffing to provide appropriate treatment, and the integration of mental health with all medical services. We believe HR 2646 will support our mission and bring funding into focus.

HR 2646 must help direct funding intended to improve standards of care for people with serious mental illnesses. HR 2646 must help prevent funding from being misused for political and special interest agendas by Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness(PAIMI.)  It must strongly reform SAMHSA, which promotes a meeting/consulting industry, massive new bureaucracies, and wastes money on new programs with no evidence based criteria. We must have a science and evidence-based foundation for supporting spending that leads to whole health for a population that is dying by suicide, co-morbidities and shame.

 HR 2646 has focused the nation on the need to remove discriminatory barriers to accessing SMI treatment. It has helped highlight that the system itself is the central source of stigma because it denies access to medically necessary treatment. It has highlighted the tragedies, the torture and the tremendous tax waste. It has highlighted the need to enforce mental health parity for all who have a serious mental illness.

Like Congressman Tim Murphy, Mental Illness FACTS is independent, informed and dedicated to equal, quality treatment for all people with serious mental illnesses. We believe it is time for HR2646. It is time to meet the essential health standards for people living with serious mental illnesses identified by the national Institute of Medicine (IOM): Safe, Equitable, Timely, Efficient, Patient/Family Centered, Effective. It is time for national change that matters.  

A strong HR 2646 will help to stop the shunning of our loved ones and our families. A strong HR 2646 will force our nation to stop assigning medically necessary treatment for serious mental illnesses to relatives, police and prison guards!  A strong HR 2646 will move the nation to whole health by providing a continuum of care including preventative assisted outpatient treatment, hospital beds, HIPAA relief for parents and evidence based treatment before tragedy, jail, homelessness and suicide.

Our plea is honest and heartfelt. We urge the E & C members to support the bold, courageous leadership of Congressman Tim Murphy when considering amendments to HR2646. 

Respectfully,

Teresa Pasquini and Rose King
Co-Founders of Mental Illness FACTS and Right 2 Treatment




For Immediate Release:  Monday, May 23, 2016    
Contact: Rose King 916-768-8012                            
rking1@surewest.net       


Coalition Challenges State to Enforce

Accountability for Prop 63 $Billions -

Advocates call for MHSA compliance and

opposition to a raid on severe mental illness Trust Fund.


A Coalition for Serious Mental Illness is calling upon state officials to ensure compliance with the Prop 63/Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) voter-enacted law. Governor Brown’s budget revise includes a $2 Billion loan from the MHSA Trust Fund for a Senate “housing first” proposal that defies the law. The plan would exclude people with severe mental illnesses who are intended to benefit from Prop 63. Billions would be diverted for other populations and social services. The proposal is unlawful and unworkable, and cannot serve the people with severe mental illnesses identified in law.


At the same time, the governor and legislature have ignored highly critical reports that $Billions in MHSA revenue are unaccounted for. Elected officials at every level have failed to correct the lack of oversight and enforce requirements of the law. The budget proposal would divert resources for other populations, while lawmakers have not determined whether Prop 63 is even serving intended beneficiaries today. 

   
In 2008, a governor’s Department of Finance Audit listed 19 “corrective actions” necessary to comply with MHSA law. “After officials ignored the audit, I filed a whistleblower complaint, which generated support from other critics, and we campaigned for four years to get a public report from the California State Auditor,” Rose King, a Prop 63 co-author, said. “The year-long audit was released in 2013 and condemned all four state agents and four representative counties responsible for implementing the MHSA law.”  


In 2013, the State Auditor said they could not determine if the MHSA law was effective, provided benefits, or complied with the law.


The Audit was followed by a 2015 Little Hoover Commission report of critical shortcomings, including the lack of financial reports linked to a measure of progress.  Public officials should know that the public mental health system has no money to spare. There is no evidence that purposes of the MHSA law have been fulfilled, while signs of failure are evident in every county.


“There is not a single report of increased access and quality of treatment for people with serious mental illnesses—only continued, anecdotal reports of decline in quality and access,” King said.  


King also said legislators and the governor must consider an Attorney General Opinion in 2006, which ruled on a similar attempt to divert Prop 63 funds.  The Attorney General Opinion for Darrell Steinberg in 2006 vetoed such a plan, citing language of the law, the Legislative Analyst statement, and ballot arguments as evidence. A proposed construction loan would violate MHSA purposes and require another vote of the people. Now, 10 years later, a new proposal attempts to circumvent the intent of the voters.


In a letter to Governor Brown, Senators and Assembly Members, advocates said that housing alone does not serve the Prop 63 population. Housing alone sets people up for failure when wraparound services are not on site and in place. MHSA spending already tried this experiment and failed. A room alone does not relieve people of torturous voices, paranoia, other painful symptoms, or exploitation by others. 


The State Must Account for any benefits from $17 Billion in spending before taking more money from serious mental illness.  


Children and adults cannot access evidence-based community treatment, intensive outpatient care, or essential hospitalizations. Continued complaints from consumers, families, and front-line providers, and investigative reports from news sources, are the only accounts of conditions.
No public report of actual performance exists.


“As a wife, mother, and grandmother of brave individuals with severe mental illnesses, as a political professional, and a volunteer community advocate, I know that mental health budgets are always the first to be cut. They are the prime source of funding for other public services, and politicians cut those budgets because they can. There is no protection for treatment money,” King said.


SMI Coalition members are meeting with legislators to urge opposition to the misuse of treatment money targeted for serious mental illnesses. The 2016 Senator DeLeon-Darrell Steinberg plan would indebt the state MHSA Trust Fund for $2 Billion by issuing bonds that would cast $3.9 Billion to repay.


“Today that money is allocated to counties that can develop supportive housing to meet their local needs,” according to coalition leaders.  “There is no rationale for taking the money from counties.”  


MENTAL ILLNESS

FACTS-Family and Consumer

True Stories