Two bills authored by Smith head to Senate

In this Signal file photo, Assemblywoman Christy Smith points to the football field where she practiced as a Pop Warner football league cheer leader as a girl during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for 21 new classrooms at Sierra Vista Junior High School in Canyon Country. Her new bill reprioritizes the revenue for Kids Plates from the DMV, which will help more children, she said Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, had two health-related bills pass the state Assembly this week as Assembly Bills 769 and 1051 head to the state Senate.

Together, the bills seek to increase the amount of jobs in mental health and nursing, according to a news release from Smith’s office.

Mental Health

Under existing law, there is inequity among mental health providers because psychologists, licensed clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists are all eligible to be reimbursed for the services they provide, Smith previously said. However, licensed clinical counselors, who are parallel, fully qualified and trained mental health professionals who offer important services to health centers, are left out of the Medi-Cal reimbursement mechanism.

AB 769 would include these licensed professional clinical counselors in the Medi-Cal reimbursement system.

“I am proud AB 769 would honor the important services LPCCs already provide with their work in mental health and substance abuse treatment,” Smith said Wednesday. “It’s time we prioritize affordable access to mental health by addressing gaps in our workforce, especially in rural and remote areas, so we can serve all Californians.”

Nursing

AB 1051 is a measure that looks to boost the recruitment and retention of nursing faculty in community colleges, Wednesday’s release stated. Under current rigorous standards for nursing programs, faculty quickly exceed the course load cap, which leads to high instructor turnover rates and a loss of continuity for students’ classroom and clinical education. As a result, the bill seeks to establish an exemption that would allow clinical nursing faculty to exceed the 67 percent course load gap for part-time faculty.

“I have the utmost respect for nurses, especially for those who bring their expertise in care to the classroom to support and educate the next generation of nurses,” Smith said. “At the same time, with our growing baby boomer population and the rise in chronic diseases, our state will need nurses now more than ever. This bill would help us meet the job demands in our state while advancing our nursing education programs.”

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