Biweekly Briefing Articles

5 Things To Know: Office of Health Care Affordability, Medi-Cal Budget Request, Veterans in Suicidal Crisis, Empath Unit Deadline Extended, Behavioral Health Playbook

OFFICE OF HEALTH CARE AFFORDABILITY: The California Hospital Association (CHA) has developed a web page for the new Office of Health Care Affordability. The web page contains background information on the office’s main responsibilities and implementation timelines. It will be updated as new information becomes available. Contact Ben Johnson at with any questions.  

MEDI-CAL BUDGET REQUEST: CHA is lobbying the Newsom administration and Legislature for a $1.5 billion, one-time state budget request for hospitals to address the financial challenges created by insufficient Medi-Cal rates and growing medical inflation. Advocacy materials — including key messages, an issue brief, and infographic — are available to assist members when discussing this critical issue. 

VETERANS IN SUICIDAL CRISIS: Effective Jan. 17, veterans in acute suicidal crisis can go to any U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or non-VA health care facility for emergency health care at no cost — including inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days. Veterans do not need to be enrolled in the VA system to use this benefit.  

EMPATH UNIT DEADLINE EXTENDED: The deadline for eligible hospitals to apply for the expansion of emergency psychiatric assessment, treatment, and healing (EmPATH) units has been extended to 3 p.m. (PT) on Feb. 24. Six grants from the Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) are available to investor-owned, not-for-profit, faith-based, and tribally operated California hospitals caring for unserved and underserved populations. More information is available on the MHSOAC website.       

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH PLAYBOOK: The Behavioral Health Parity Playbook: Strengthening State Laws and Partnerships summarizes thousands of pages of material published by federal and state agencies and provides examples of promising practices. It is designed to be used as a guide for behavioral health leaders in their work with other stakeholders to help achieve parity in their states.