The California Access Coalition (CAC) is a network of local and state behavioral health organizations that advocate to eliminate barriers that keep Californians from accessing medication and behavioral health treatment. Our mission is to educate policy makers and the public about access to medication and behavioral health by convening key stakeholders to advocate for patient-centered policies. For more than two decades, we have provided a forum for advocacy and discussion among leading behavioral health care organizations.
Since 2006, we have successfully pushed for numerous policy changes, including:
Sponsored legislation to expand the Medi-Cal formulary to include new antidepressant and anti-psychotic medications.
Partnered with sheriffs to create legislation to establish the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant Program (MIOCR) to divert individuals from jails and to provide follow-up behavioral care for formerly incarcerated individuals.
Key stakeholders in the public relations campaign in support of then Assemblymember Darrell Steinberg’s AB 34 which created pilot programs for homeless individuals.
Under the management of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA), we plan to continue uniting organizations to weigh in on policy and legislation that are relevant to the missions of our members.
The California Access Coalition (CAC) was originally conceived in 1995. Rusty Selix, in partnership with pharmaceutical companies and providers, behavioral health organizations, hospitals, client networks, consumer advocates, poverty groups, law enforcement, and legislators, formed what was then known as the ACCESS Coalition.
The CAC created a two-year campaign for legislation that included AB 659 (Miller & Polanco, 1998) and SB 1402 (Watson) to add newer medications to the Medi-Cal formulary without restrictions. After the campaign’s success, the CAC moved on to other issues including: mental health parity in insurance coverage, public mental health system funding (AB 34 Steinberg), and decriminalization of mental health challenges. The CAC played an
instrumental role in the passage of Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, in 2004 which dedicated state funding specifically for mental health services.
Over the two decades the CAC has been in existence, it has accomplished much and been recognized both statewide and nationally. Through its long-standing partnership with Perry Communications Group, the CAC has managed successful public relations efforts. The ACCESS campaign published a series of articles and op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and California newspapers that prompted legislative action on patient access to prescriptions. In 1999, the ACCESS campaign won the Crystal Award for Best Public Affairs Campaign.
Rusty Selix retired in 2018, and passed away from complications related to ALS in 2019. The CAC has since transitioned to the management of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA), a longtime member organization. Under CBHA’s guidance, the CAC is poised to continue and expand its role as an advocate for greater patient access to medications and behavioral health services.