California Strengthens Access to Medi-Cal Mental Health

Author Details

Monika Lee


Sacramento, CA – The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network celebrates Governor Newsom singing Senate Bill 1019 by Senator Lena Gonzalez. This law will ensure managed care plans conduct culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach to those enrolled in Medi-Cal about their right to mental health services, how to find a provider, language access rights, and more.  

Mental health is essential to overall health. The pandemic and racial justice protests showed the growing need to address anxiety, depression, and stress. Despite gains provided by the Affordable Care Act, CPEHN reported on the numerous gaps to access people enrolled in Medi-Cal face in accessing their mental health benefits.  

An estimated 1 in 5 people enrolled in Medi-Cal will have a mental health need in a given year. However, DHCS found that Asian, Pacific Islander, and Latino Medi-Cal enrollees access mental health services at the lowest rates of all ethnic groups while access in LGBTQ+ communities is so low that data is not even publicly available. Challenges to accessing mental health services include lack of awareness, cultural and linguistic barriers, and lack of accountability on plans.  

“CPEHN and our partners thank Governor Newsom and Senator Gonazlez for ensuring the promise of mental health services is fulfilled. For far too long, Black, Indigenous, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals have faced barriers to having their mental health needs met,” said Andrea Rivera, senior legislative advocated at CPEHN. “SB 1019 will seek to right historic wrongs by ensuring managed care plans outreach to Med-Cal enrollees and inform them of their benefits.”