Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Healthcare priorities

I am a strong advocate for expanded access to healthcare, including mental health and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatments. These issues frequently come before the Assembly Health Committee, where I serve as Vice Chair.

This session, I introduced Assembly Bill 1944, which seeks to create a safe pathway for patients with rare and ultra-rare diseases seeking investigational treatments designed just for them, despite the usual costly and extremely time-consuming FDA approval process.

I also supported SB 496, which requires health insurers including Medi-Cal to cover biomarker testing that results in targeted therapy for diagnosis and treatment, therapies that have proven very effective for cancer patients.

I serve on the Select Committee on Fentanyl, Opioid Addiction, and Overdose Prevention. Thousands of lives lost in San Diego County, many from accidental overdoses, could be saved if antidotes were readily available. Last year I introduced AB 1233, which facilitates the availability of opioid antagonist drugs (antidotes) in tribal communities, many of which have been ravaged by the fentanyl crisis.

California’s mental health needs are staggering, but the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) hasn’t been significantly changed in 20 years. Almost one in seven adults (about 4.4 million people) and one in 14 children (about 621,000) experience some form of mental illness.

One in 26 adults and one in 14 children have trouble functioning in their daily activities. Necessary MHSA updates include expansion of services for those suffering with SUDs, allowing MHSA funding for SUD treatments, and additional community support for prevention and early intervention.

Mental health and SUDs are major contributors to homelessness and crime. Expanding care may be costly up front, but societal benefits of less crime and recidivism, reduced homelessness and restored lives will be incalculable.

We have to get a handle on these problems – there is no alternative. During my remaining time in the Legislature, those efforts will continue.

 

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