April 2013 Newsletter
FUNDING OUR FUTURE
If you missed my "Funding Our Future'' education roundtable on the state's school budget earlier this month, please come to my second forum on April 18, 6:30-8 p.m., at the Cupertino Community Center, 10185 N. Stelling Road.
To provide parents, students, and local educators with answers Carolyn Chu, of the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office, will join me again. We will discuss the potential effects of Governor Brown's proposed Local Control Formula and we'll field your questions.
To RSVP, click here.
BUDGET AND BREAKFAST
Enjoy a free pancake breakfast with your neighbors at my community forum on the state budget. It's scheduled for April 20, 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m., at the Almaden Community Center, 6445 Camden Ave., in San Jose.
Kris Kuzmich, of the state Senate Budget Committee, will give an overview on the nuts and bolts of the Governor's ambitious budget. The Governor's recommendations include changing how schools are funded; continuing the high-speed rail project; implementing the federal Affordable Care Act; and overhauling the state's vast water delivery system.
So please come by and bring your appetite and questions. To RSVP, click here.
For more information about this event, as well as my April 18 education roundtable, please call my Senate District 15 office, (408) 558-1295.
ENFORCING MENTAL HEALTH PARITY
One of my priorities this year is to ensure people with mental illness or substance abuse disorders are able to get the treatment they require from their health insurers.
California has passed some of the strongest mental health and substance abuse parity laws in the country but those laws are undermined by a weak enforcement system. I believe we must bolster those laws with a strong monitoring system to bring recalcitrant health insurers into compliance.
I introduced Senate Bill 22 to do just that. To learn more about SB 22 and how to support it, please click here.
Right now, the state's enforcement system is largely based on consumer complaints. I think the current system gives us an incomplete picture because it relies on a person who may be struggling with a mental illness or substance abuse disorder to step up and voluntarily file a complaint and cope with a new morass of red tape.
Under SB 22, the health insurers would be required to submit an annual report to the Department of Managed Health Care or the Department of Insurance to show they are compliance. The report must include documented evidence and includes surveys with consumers and providers as well as other analysis. The mandatory surveys will permit consumers to share their experiences about the care they received. The reports would be available to the public by having them posted on insurers' websites.
Why is stronger enforcement needed? Last month, the state found patients of a major health plan experienced long delays for mental health appointments and were offered inaccurate information that could have dissuaded them from seeking treatment. The findings were revealed in a mandatory survey that is conducted every three years - not annually.
Stronger enforcement is also important because 57.4 percent of all Americans at some time during their lives will incur a mental disorder, according to a Harvard Medical School study. Untreated mental illness is also costly; it drives our public safety and justice system costs, diverting taxpayer dollars that could be spent on schools, universities, or our seniors and children.
Who's a great dad?
The Santa Clara County Office of Education wants to know.
The Office of Education, together with the San Francisco 49ers, is sponsoring an essay contest for kids from 5 to 17 to nominate an outstanding father - or father figure, such as a grandfather, stepfather, uncle, brother, coach, mentor or other role model - by writing a 300-word or less composition explaining why. Fifty winners will be chosen and receive invitations to join their dad/father figure at a luncheon. The top four will attend a 49ers game for free. The deadline to submit essays is April 22.
For more information, click here.
The "Top Dads" essay gives sons and daughters an opportunity to reflect on their relationship with their fathers while challenging them to put their thoughts into written words. My father, who passed away two years ago, was a powerfully important influence on my life. By his words and actions, he taught me patience, perspective, kindness, the value of hard work, and to serve others.
Study after study show what a positive effect fathers can have on children. Kids who have involved and loving fathers do well in school and are more sociable, secure, and adept at cope with the ups and downs of life. They are less likely to use drugs or be involved in criminal activity.
So let's cherish our dads.