San Francisco Supervisors Announce Compromise for Mental Health Treatment Plan

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Szu Ong/ Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties

San Francisco Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney announced on Tuesday several compromises to an extensive overhaul of the city's mental health treatment they have proposed to enact through an upcoming ballot measure.

The supervisors said the compromises to the proposal, dubbed Mental Health SF, came after weeks of meeting with Mayor London Breed over concerns that she had about the proposal and the city's Department of Public Health.

The supervisors had intended to put the measure on the November ballot but delayed it until March to address the concerns.

"We heard from DPH and the Mayor and incorporated their feedback and suggestions," Haney said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we were never able to share these amendments directly because they abruptly ended our meetings last week."

Breed's office did not respond to a request for comment on whether the mayor supported the legislation with the announced changes.

The supervisors had proposed a comprehensive program for mental health care citywide that would include a 24-hour drop-in center with access to psychiatrists and medication for anyone who needs it, regardless of their insurance.

But the compromises refocus the effort back to people in crisis who lack insurance.

Under one of the compromises announced on Tuesday, officials with Ronen and Haney's offices said that short-term emergency services would be available for people unable to access mental health care through their insurance provider who are in danger of an immediate crisis.

But the program would seek to have insurance companies provide care, or reimburse the city for its expense. It would create a new office of insurance accountability to fight for patients to receive mental health care and recoup funds for emergency city services.

It would also create a clinically trained street crisis team who would focus on people suffering from a mental health crisis on the streets. Its drop-in center would include a sobering center for people suffering from drug or alcohol withdrawal.

The supervisors also said that the program will be launched only when funding is created either by the voters or through additional revenue for the city.

When they announced the plan in May, they proposed an Excessive CEO Salary Tax, which would tax companies 1 percent if their CEOs make 100 times more than their employees. They estimated such a tax could raise $80 million per year.

"Not a day goes by that I don't hear from constituents who are desperately concerned about what is happening on the streets of San Francisco," Ronen said. "Solving our mental health crisis has got to be City Hall's number one focus, and it is going to take major systemic change to get it done."

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on Mental Health SF at a rules committee meeting on Oct. 30.

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