Mental health

Wildfires cause more than breathing problems across California

Photo of Woosley fire with huge amount of smoke and ash in air, blocking the sun
Smoke and ash partially block out the sun from the Woolsey fire on Nov. 9. Photo: Matthew Simmons/Getty Images

Health effects from the California wildfires — mainly from stress, inhalation of small particulates and the disturbance of people's health care needs — may reverberate for some time after the fires are finally smothered out.

Why it matters: Once people are situated in an area away from the fire, people need to take steps to ensure they are not breathing the smoke and that they are handling the stress in a healthy manner. As health officials declare a public health emergency in California, they also warn people in areas near the wildfires to limit their time outdoors.

Medicaid expanding mental health coverage

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced yesterday that states can soon begin applying for waivers to expand their treatment capacity for serious mental health issues.

The big picture: The waivers will allow states to lift the so-called "IMD exclusion" — a ban on federal Medicaid funding for residential treatment facilities with more than 16 beds. 17 states have already received similar waivers to lift the ban for treatment of substance use disorders, like opioid addiction.

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