SB 1238 (Eggman) Designated Facilities – Opposed

June 14, 2024

The Honorable Mia Bonta
Chair, Assembly Committee on Health
California State Assembly  
1020 N Street, Room 390
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Opposition to SB 1238 (Eggman)

Dear Chair Bonta,

Mental Health America of California (MHAC) respectfully opposes Senate Bill 1238 (Eggman), legislation which seeks to expands the definition of “facility designated by the county for evaluation and treatment” or “designated facility” for the purpose of involuntarily holding and treating people with standalone substance use disorder.

MHAC is a peer-run organization leading the state in behavioral health public policy and advocacy since 1957. The mission of MHAC is to assist and encourage communities, families and individuals to experience hope, wellness and recovery from mental health and substance use disorder issues through voluntary services that are delivered in their local community with compassion and respect for everyone’s dignity and autonomy. Access to voluntary support and services are vital to preventing people from experiencing mental and behavioral health crises.

Last year, Senate Bill 43 (Eggman) expanded the definition of “gravely disabled” to include individuals with substance use disorder, allowing them to be placed on a 5150 hold and receive forced treatment. Senate Bill 1238 (Eggman) seeks to address the increase in people being held for standalone substance use disorder by permitting designated facilities to admit individuals with SUD. Those placed on a 5150 hold must be taken to a designated facility that meets specific safety standards, has the proper resources, and complies with state and federal laws. Our primary concerns with this bill are as follows:

  1. Ineffectiveness of Involuntary Treatment

      Involuntary treatment for individuals with substance use disorder is ineffective. Forcing people into environments not properly suited for recovery can cause additional trauma. When resources and services are available, people are more likely to seek help voluntarily. This bill does not ensure that individuals will be placed in facilities with the proper infrastructure or resources needed for a healthy recovery.

      2. Bypassing the Regulatory Process

      The amended language in the bill allows the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to bypass public notice and comment requirements in the rule-making process. This means the DHCS can “implement, interpret, or make specific [the bill], in whole or in part, by means of plan or county letters, information notices, plan or provider bulletins, or other similar instructions, without taking any further regulatory action.”

      Expanding the capabilities of facilities to involuntarily hold and treat individuals with standalone substance use disorders jeopardizes their health and places them in environments that are not conducive to recovery. For this reason, we oppose SB 1238 (Eggman) and ask for your “No” vote. If you have any questions, or if MHAC can provide any assistance on this bill or any other behavioral health legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me or our Public Policy Director, Karen Vicari, at

      In Community,

      Heidi L. Strunk

      President & CEO