The year 2017 was overshadowed by proposals that would considerably impact California’s ability to serve the mental health and substance use treatment needs of individuals at risk of involvement in the justice system. Through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), substantial opportunities, such as Medicaid expansion to low income adults and the inclusion of mental health and substance use treatment as essential health benefits, have allowed California to prevent incarceration and pursue a reduction in recidivism through investments in behavioral health services. The negative consequences that would occur if the ACA was repealed or critical elements dismantled compelled the Council to focus efforts on documenting the need for, and impact of, services provided under Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). In addition, the Council sought to understand how the administration and delivery of Medi-Cal programs can be improved in the most cost-effective manner.

The 2017 COMIO Annual Report examines behavioral health care and the justice-involved, including current promising programs to prevent incarceration and effectively expand the workforce in a cost-effective way. The report discusses the following topics:

  1. Behavioral health care and the justice-involved
    • California reforms to the criminal justice system have made behavioral health services a public safety issue
    • Health care reform provides enhanced behavioral health services and supports public safety
    • What can be done to maximize the benefit of behavioral health care for the justice-involved
    • California’s opportunity to design what works for the justice-involved with significant behavioral health challenges
  2. Building the capacity of the behavioral health workforce to reduce the incarceration of individuals with behavioral health challenges
  3. California counties and promising programs to prevent incarceration