Peer Provider Certification Bill Advances to Assembly

May 30, 2018

SACRAMENTO -- Senator Jim Beall’s bill to increase the effectiveness of mental health and addiction supportive services that also reduces state costs was approved today by the Senate. Senate Bill 906 passed on a unanimous vote.

SB 906 proposes to certify qualified peer providers -- people with lived experiences as family members, clients, or caretakers of individuals recovering from addiction or mental illness – to provide support services that help their clients complete their treatments or therapies.

“A peer provider who has a unique understanding of the challenges their client faces can make all the difference in that person’s  path toward a healthier life,’’ Beall said.

“Often peer providers share not just lived experience but the language and culture with the people they serve.”

If SB 906 is signed into law, California would join more than 40 other states that have already adopted such peer provider programs, establishing clear and basic standards for peer training and certification.

“California inexplicably has fallen behind the rest of the nation on this issue,’’ Beall said. “The federal government urges states to adopt certification programs because they help standardize best practices.’’

Research studies have determined peer support car improve client functioning and satisfaction, and reduce both depression and hospitalizations.

Under SB 906, the Department of Health Care Services would establish a certification program and standards for peer support providers. In addition, the bill also directs to seek federal waivers to dramatically reduce state costs. A 50 percent match for state peer support provider programs is available under guidelines established by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

SB 906 is sponsored by the Steinberg Institute and supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Senator Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, is a joint author. Senators Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, and Dr. Richard Pan, (D-Sacramento) are co-authors.

The bill now goes to the state Assembly for consideration.