California Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, a Stockton Democrat who helped pass the mental health care bill signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year, will head the Senate’s influential health committee. was appointed as Health services and moving homeless people into housing and treatment.
A licensed social worker, Eggman helps families, clinicians, first responders, and others access government-funded treatment and services for people whose lives have been derailed by untreated psychotic disorders and substance use. Co-authored a new law that allows you to petition judges to require This is a powerful new tool to address the tens of thousands of people in California who are living homeless or at risk of incarceration due to untreated mental illness, community support, recovery. and the Empowerment Act, or CARE Court, was a victory for Newsom. Addicted. The measure faced strong opposition from disability and civil liberties groups concerned that it would take away people’s right to make their own decisions.
In an interview with KHN before his appointment, Eggman said, “We’re seeing real examples of people dying every day, and they’re dying with their rights.” I think we need to look at the problem: It’s dangerous for anyone to live around needles or dig holes under highways.”
Senator Toni Atkins announced Eggman’s appointment Thursday night. Mr. Eggman succeeds Dr. Richard Pang, who was dismissed last year after five years as chair. Pang, a pediatrician, has prioritized the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has supported legislation to strengthen the state’s childhood vaccination laws. These moves made him a hero among public health advocates, despite facing taunts and physical threats from opponents.
The leadership change is expected to coincide with Democratic health policies focused on two of the state’s nastiest and most intractable problems: homelessness and mental illness. California accounts for 30% of the nation’s homeless population and her 12% of the U.S. population, according to federal data. A recent Stanford University study estimated that in 2020, about 25% of homeless adults in Los Angeles County had a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, and 27% had a long-term substance use disorder. I’m here.
Eggman works with Congressman Jim Wood, a Santa Rosa Democrat who is returning as chairman of the Congressional Health Committee. The Chair may set different priorities, but must work together to bring the bill to the Governor’s desk.
Eggman will take the helm as California grapples with an expected $24 billion budget deficit and may be forced to cut healthcare spending. According to David McCune, chair of political science at Sonoma State University, a tightening fiscal outlook is pushing politicians away from big “moonshot” ideas like universal health care to move voters’ advances against the state’s homeless crisis. A recent statewide survey by the California Institute of Public Policy found that 7 in 10 voters cite homelessness as a major problem.
Eggman, 61, served eight years in the state legislature before being elected to the Senate in 2020. In 2015, she drafted California’s End-of-Life Options Act to make life-threatening medications available to terminally ill patients who meet certain criteria. their doctor. Her past work on mental health has included changing eligibility rules for outpatient treatment or guardianship, and trying to make it easier for community clinics to bill the government for mental health services.
She has not announced her future plans, but has about $70,000 in her lieutenant governor’s campaign account and $175,000 on a ballot measure committee to “fix California’s mental health system.”
Eggman said the CARE Court initiative aims to balance civil rights and public health. She believes that people should be in the least restrictive environment necessary for care, but if someone is a danger to themselves or their community, they should have the option to hold them against their will. A Berkeley Institute of Government poll released in October found that 76% of registered voters had a positive view of the law.
Senator Thomas Umberg (D-Santa Anna), who co-authored the bill with Eggman, credited her expertise in behavioral health and dedication to explaining to fellow lawmakers how the plan works. “I think she really helped put her face into it,” Umberg said.
However, it will be difficult to show immediate results. The measure will be rolled out in phases, with the first of his seven counties (Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne) scheduled to begin work in his October. The remaining 51 counties are scheduled to start in his 2024.
The county government is concerned about a steady and sufficient flow of funds to cover the treatment and housing costs inherent in the plan.
California has allocated $57 million in seed funding to counties to set up local CARE courts, but the state has not specified how much money will flow to counties to maintain county operations. No, said Jacqueline Wong Hernandez, deputy secretary general for legislative affairs in the California Legislature. California County Association.
Robin Kennedy is Professor Emeritus of Social Work at Sacramento State University, where Eggman taught social work before he was elected to Congress. Kennedy described Eggman as a data-driven person, a listener who listens to the needs of caregivers, and a leader willing to do hard things. The two have known each other since Eggman began teaching in 2002.
“Most of us, when we become faculty members, just want to do research and teach,” Kennedy said. “Susan was there, even though she was only there for a couple of years, she was in her leadership role.”
She said Eggman’s vision of seeing mental health as a community issue rather than just an individual concern is controversial, but she intends to have difficult conversations and listen to all sides. Kennedy added, “She’s not going to just do what Newsom says.”
Eggman and Wood are expected to oversee CalAIM, the Newsom Administration’s overhaul of Medical, California’s Medicaid program for low-income people. The effort is a multi-billion dollar experiment to fund social programs and keep patients out of costly facilities such as emergency departments, prisons, nursing homes and mental health crisis centers. With the aim of improving patient health, Wood said he sees an opportunity to improve the CalAIM initiative and oversee the consolidation of the healthcare industry, which is pushing up costs. I think.
Eggman is also concerned about labor shortages in the health care industry and hopes to revisit talks about raising the minimum wage for hospital workers after last year’s negotiations between the industry and workers failed. I’m in
But with only two years left before she retires, Eggman says her lens will be firmly aligned to her area of expertise, improving behavioral health care across California.
“I want to focus on where my experience has been over the last few years,” she said.
This article was produced by KHN, which publishes California Healthline, an independent editorial service of the California Health Care Foundation.