California Healthline: Bill Aiming To Integrate Mental, Physical Health Care Wins Committee Approval

by David Gorn

The Senate Committee on Health yesterday unanimously voted to approve a measure that would allow same-day billing in rural areas for physical and mental health office visits.

SB 1150 by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) applies to rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers — facilities with generally low-income patients, Hueso said. Many patients are homeless and often have mental health issues that need treatment, he said.

“The current practice requires subsequent appointments,” Hueso said, “but there’s obviously a great need to provide mental health services, and most times these patients don’t return for that treatment.”

Barbara Glaser, senior legislative advocate for the California Hospital Association, said patients in rural areas often can’t get to providers easily.

“Many of these people have to travel long distances,” she said, and rural areas don’t have much public transportation. “Being able to provide physical and mental health services on the same day makes a big difference. … In the long run, it will save everyone money and help patients get better care.”

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