Biweekly Briefing Articles

5 Things To Know: Overdose to Action Grant, Behavioral Health Workforce Development, Patient Safety Webinars, Medi-Cal RX Update, Equity Working Group Webinar

OVERDOSE TO ACTION GRANT: San Diego County is a recipient of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) grant, which focuses on overdose surveillance and prevention. Along with community-focused overdose prevention activities, a key strategy of OD2A is supporting San Diego licensed prescribers (i.e., physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists). The county’s OD2A team has also developed an OD2A quarterly newsletter specifically for licensed prescribers. Since 2016, opioid-related drug deaths in the San Diego region have been on the increase. Overdose deaths attributed to fentanyl almost tripled from 2019 to 2020 and accounted for 77% of opioid-related deaths in 2020, compared to 45% in 2019. The highest rate of opioid overdose deaths, in 2020, was in the Central region, followed by the East and North Coastal regions. These data are used by the county to guide overdose prevention activities.  

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: The Department of Health Care Services is taking steps to expand California’s behavioral health workforce through the Mentored Internship Program. Nonprofit provider organizations, tribal organizations, and county-operated providers of behavioral health services in underserved and diverse communities are eligible to apply for the program, which is part of the Behavioral Health Workforce Development initiative. Organizations can apply for up to $500,000 to develop, implement, and maintain an in-house internship program that will create a sustainable substance use disorder workforce. The application deadline is March 15. More information is available on the Behavioral Health Workforce Development web page.

PATIENT SAFETY WEBINARS: The Hospital Quality Institute and Collaborative Healthcare Patient Safety Organization will host three webinars during Patient Safety Awareness Week, which is recognized March 12-18. The webinars are:   

March 14: Pain Management in the Patient with Opioid Use Disorder    
March 15: Who are the Numbers – Valuing Transparency in Medical Errors    
March 16: Think Sepsis, Treat Sepsis, Save Lives: A Peek inside Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Sepsis Program    

MEDI-CAL RX UPDATE: On Feb. 24, the Department of Health Care Services implemented Phase 2, Wave 2 of the reinstatement of prior authorizations (PAs) and retirement of the transition policy. PA requirements are now reinstated for 46 additional standard therapeutic classes, including medical supplies, for new start prescriptions for members ages 22 and older. “New starts” are defined as new therapies or medications that were not previously prescribed to a member during the 15-month lookback period. Medi-Cal Rx will continue to use PA and claims data to allow for grandfathering of previously approved PAs until Phase 3 of reinstatement.

EQUITY WORKING GROUP WEBINAR: The California Health & Human Services Agency will host a webinar on March 29 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. (PT) on the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative Equity Working Group. The Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative aims to reimagine the ecosystem that supports behavioral health and social and emotional well-being of all children and youth ages 0-25. In particular, the initiative is focused on those who face the greatest systemic barriers to wellness and are disproportionately impacted by behavioral health issues. This includes children and youth of color, LGBTQ+ youth, low-income families, and children and youth from underserved communities. The working group’s role is to advise, guide, and develop practical applications and recommendations.