Sacramento – This weekend, Governor Brown signed AB 1863, a bill authored by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) that will enable rural health clinics (RHCs) and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) to hire qualified licensed marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and allow for them to become billable providers under Medi-Cal.
“Access to mental health care services is essential to people’s well-being. Adding marriage and family therapists as providers at these centers is just one more way to increase a patient’s ability to seek the support they need,” said Wood. “We needed to make that possible.”
FQHCs and RHCs are federal designated clinics that are required to serve medically underserved populations that provide primary care services throughout the state. These clinics provided more than 10.5 million Medi-Cal visits in 2013.
“Increasing access to behavioral health services through visits with Marriage and Family Therapists in a primary care environment will improve the lives of California’s most underserved communities,” said Carmela Castellano-Garcia, president and CEO of CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates. “Wait times will decrease and care will improve, bringing us one step closer to a truly healthy California.”
By allowing MFTs to serve Medi-Cal patients, this will address the serious health access gaps in behavioral health care along with solving the existing gaps in workforce capacity and bring us one step closer to addressing the behavioral health crisis in California. This is very much needed in rural communities where recruitment of health care providers can be challenging.
"The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists is thrilled that Governor Brown signed AB 1863,” said president Patricia Ravitz. “By adding Marriage and Family Therapists as providers at these centers, many Californians will now have greater access to mental health care. Our members look forward to serving these patients and collaborating with the professional teams at the centers."
Elected in 2014, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D- Healdsburg) represents the 2nd Assembly District, which includes all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, plus northern and coastal Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa.