Delta Center California is a 2.5-year initiative supported by the California Health Care Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that brings together behavioral health and primary care leaders to accelerate care improvement and integration through policy and practice change. The initiative is led by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) and runs through March 2023.
Delta Center California's goals are to:
- Foster collaboration and collective action between primary care and behavioral health at the state and county level in California.
- Build knowledge and ability of state associations to ensure that changes in incentives and care systems meet the goals and needs of individuals and families.
- Accelerate payment and care integration through on-the-ground projects in selected sites across California.
The ultimate impact is to advance health policy solutions and create a care system that better meets the goals and needs of individuals and families, and addresses racial and economic disparities.
Unmet need for behavioral health care is a health and health equity crisis in California. A 25-year disparity in life expectancy persists between individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) and those without. (NASMHPD, 2006) Individuals in California living below the poverty line also have more than twice the prevalence of SMI compared to the state average. (CHCF, 2018) Furthermore, unmanaged substance use disorder (SUD) and SMI are contributing to California’s growing homelessness crisis.
Better addressing behavioral health needs is also a financial imperative. Nationally, 48% of all Medicaid spending is for those with a behavioral health diagnosis, and almost half of the top 5% most costly Medi-Cal enrollees have been diagnosed with SMI. (MACPAC, 2015) California has a heightened imperative to address Medi-Cal costs as the economic fallout of COVID-19 decreases state revenues at the same time that approximately 2 million individuals are expected to qualify for Medi-Cal.
Crisis can be a catalyst for transformation. Even before COVID-19, a CHCF poll showed unprecedented societal interest in behavioral health; over half of respondents said their community does not have enough mental health providers to meet local needs. (CHCF, 2019)
The COVID-19 pandemic is increasing behavioral health needs, both the immediate impacts of loss and social isolation and longer-term needs related to the economic fallout. The crisis has also illuminated the perils of fee-for-service healthcare and presents opportunities for change. Bringing together primary care and behavioral health leaders, Delta Center California offers a neutral venue to examine recent policy and practice changes, identify opportunities to sustain what has worked, and explore and implement payment and practice change going forward.
Read the story behind the Delta Center name.