Friday, July 1, 2011

Is California's "Millionaire Tax" Working to Improve Mental Health Treatment?

Robert Biedermann/Shutterstock
The Bay Area News Group has released an analysis of spending under California's Mental Health Services Act of 2004 (Proposition 63, known as the the Millionaire's Tax), concluding that much of the funding has gone to consultants and programs not directly linked to prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Designed to raise funds for new and expanded county mental health programming through a tax on residents earning more than $1 million annually, the measure has raised $7.4 billion. However, the analysis asserts that state regulations have made it increasingly difficult for counties to use the fund to expand existing programs, resulting in a two-tiered system in which beneficiaries of older programs receive inadequate care, while those served under new programs receive high-quality care. 

That runs counter to the findings of a study in the October 2010, Psychiatric Services that found that in the wake of the new tax and distribution of funds to county programs, involuntary inpatient admission to psychiatric hospitals had dropped 10 percent below their expected levels. For more information about the study and about California’s innovative effort see Psychiatric News at


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