Among legislative proposals, Darrell Steinberg, the state Senate's top Democrat, is calling for the nation to adopt California's prevention and treatment model.
Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, has also said she will reintroduce a bill written to fund therapy and other mental health care at schools.
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare" to both its defenders and detractors, say the law should help more Americans who could benefit from mental health care receive treatment.
But even if the law succeeds in increasing Americans' access to health insurance, it does not necessarily mean those newly insured who may benefit from mental health care will seek or be referred to treatment.
The prospect of the school shootings opening a new debates on mental health policies poses a quandary for those who want government to provide more access to mental health care.
On one hand, the potential for a mentally disturbed individual to commit yet another act of violence approaching the scale of the Sandy Hook or the 2009 Virginia Tech shootings may serve as a call to improve prevention and treatment programs.
On the other, however, conflating mental illness with violence may deter those who could benefit from treatment from receiving care.
"I think they should be asking, `Who do I know who may be showing even moderate signs of mental illness.' Not that they're going to be violent. Those are the rarest of the rare cases," said Rusty Selix, executive director of Mental Health Association in California.
Selix said he supports Steinberg's call for other states and Washington to duplicate this state's Mental Health Services Act.
California voters approved the measure in 2004 as Proposition 63, which Steinberg wrote. The measure levies a 1 percent tax on incomes greater than $1 million to fund housing, medication, therapy and other mental health programs.
Steinberg said in a telephone interview that he is not proposing Congress necessarily enact a similar tax increase on a national scale. He does, however, want the federal government to provide matching funds to states' mental health programs.
"I'm saying that the federal government, though it's budget process, once it resolves its fiscal cliff issues, it would be a small investment nationally," Steinberg said.
State provided programs, Steinberg said, would include prevention, education on the signs of mental illness and suicide prevention.
The term `fiscal cliff' refers to the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that are set to go into effect after the new year if Congress and President Obama fail to agree on an alternative plan to reduce the national deficit.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has warned that failure to reach a deal could lead to a minor recession during the first half of 2013.
Congress and the president have gone on vacation with that problem unresolved. There will be less than one week after the Christmas holiday for Obama and Congressional Republicans to negotiate a compromise.
The fiscal cliff is not the only money matter that may impact Steinberg's hope to see Prop. 63 replicated from coast to coast.
Earlier this year, the senator agreed to an audit of Prop. 63 programs following an Associated Press investigation that found tens of millions of dollars have been spent on general wellness programs for people who have not been diagnosed with mental illness.
Steinberg said the audit is still pending and expressed confidence that Prop. 63 programs have helped Californians receive vital treatment.
"We are helping tens of thousands of people effectively. More effectively than before," he said.
Steinberg wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden in which he wrote that if Congress were to appropriate a dollar-for-dollar match for states' mental health programs, the cost would be about $20 billion.
He also maintained that every dollar spent on Prop. 63 programs has saved 88 cents on criminal justice expenses and other health and housing costs.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates roughly one quarter of American adults deal with some form of mental illness.
"Many eases are mild but 14% of the population suffers from moderate or severe mental illness, a near-totality of whom will never take an assault weapon to a public place and repeat ... (the Newtown) travesty, for which we still grieve," Steinberg wrote.
Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, supports Steinberg's proposal and has introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Bill to make community mental health services eligible for Medicaid reimbursement.
Among Southland lawmakers, Napolitano said in a recent interview that she will reintroduce her Mental Health in Schools Act, which would provide grant funding for therapy and other mental health services in schools.
More broadly, Napolitano said Americans' perception of mental health care needs to change.
"You have got to de-stigmatize mental health services," she said. "They're afraid. They're scared of being called `crazy."'
The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research estimates that as of 2014, roughly 500,000 Californians who currently lack health insurance may gain access to health coverage.
The center bases that prediction on the Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain insurance plans include mental health coverage as essential benefits. Those plans include Medi-Cal coverage and any provided via state-run health insurance exchanges.
But echoing the concerns of Selix and Napolitano, California Health Interview Survey director David Grant said access to care does not mean people will seek treatment.
"It's not a panacea," said Grant, who directs health surveys for UCLA. "Even when people do have health insurance and they do have problems, they don't get treatment."
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Contact Andrew via email, by phone at 909-386-3872 or 909-483-8550, or on Twitter @InlandGov.