CSAC Bulletin Article

Health and Human Services 04/26/2013

Human Services

SB 346 (Beall) – Support
As Amended on April 2, 2013

SB 346, by Assembly Member Jim Beall, would allow county social services and health departments within a county to share limited eligibility information. 
Senator Beall’s SB 346 will streamline the eligibility and enrollment process for public social services and health programs at the county level. By allowing county social services and health departments to share eligibility information, SB 346 will break down the eligibility siloes that may exist between health departments and social services departments in counties and encourage a “client centered” model of integrated services. Further, this measure will result in easier access to health care and social services for the most needy and vulnerable eligible residents in our communities.

On the eve of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, counties are seeking innovative processes and solutions to comply with the Act’s “no wrong door” approach for health care enrollment. We believe that SB 346 is a simple solution that will enable counties to improve service and access to health care services and other public social service programs. The measure is sponsored by Santa Clara County.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 346 on April 23.

Public Health

AB 506 (Mitchell) – Support
As Proposed to be Amended 

AB 506, by Assembly Member Holly Mitchell, would authorize social workers to consent to an HIV test for a child under the age of 12 months who is in temporary custody or is a dependent child of the court and where certain conditions related to their potential risk of HIV infection are met. The Assembly Judiciary Committee will hear AB 506, along with the proposed amendments, on April 30.

Mental Health

SB 664 (Yee) – Oppose 
As Amended on April 11, 2013

SB 664, by Senator Leland Yee, would remove the authority of county Boards of Supervisors to determine whether the implementation of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) services, commonly known as Laura’s Law, is appropriate in their communities. The measure had also sought to clarify that Mental Health Services Act funds may be used for AOT services in those counties that have authorized implementation. However, this provision, which CSAC supported, was amended out of the measure on April 11.

As amended, the measure removes the authority of county Boards of Supervisors to choose to implement Laura’s Law. However, the Laura’s Law demonstration project was specifically constructed to allow county Boards of Supervisors to consider the needs and priorities of their local communities, as well as the fiscal ramifications, of implementing AOT services. It is critical that county Boards of Supervisors retain the authority and flexibility to determine whether implementing Laura’s Law AOT services in their communities is appropriate.

It is for these reasons that CSAC had taken an Oppose position on SB 664. This does not mean that CSAC opposes the implementation of Laura’s Law or the provision to cap participants in the program. Again, we oppose the removal of authority from the Board of Supervisors in each county to determine whether Laura’s Law is appropriate for their communities. The Senate Health Committee passed SB 664 on April 24.

Medical Care

AB 900 (Alejo) – Support
As Introduced February 22, 2013

AB 900, by Assembly Member Luis Alejo, would restore significant cuts to the reimbursement rate for Medi-Cal services provided by distinct part skilled nursing facilities (DP/SNFs). These significant rate cuts were passed in 2011at the height of the Great Recession and during a time when California’s legislators were grappling with a $25 billion budget deficit. Compounding the devastating effects of the cuts is the fact that DP/SNFs must retroactively reimburse the state for more than two years of the rates paid to them before the cuts were declared legal.

Many small urban and rural hospitals with skilled nursing facilities cannot pay the large retroactive amounts due for the rate cuts, which run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Further, many individual facilities cannot absorb the rate cut for this fiscal year, as health care costs have continued to rise. These small facilities are struggling financially, and their ability to continue to provide medically necessary services in communities throughout the state hangs in the balance.

There is another measure, SB 640, by Senator Ricardo Lara, that seeks to restore all provider rate cuts, including the cut outlined in AB 900, enacted in the past two years. This measure has broad support among a large coalition, but may also trigger fiscal concerns from the Governor. SB 640 was passed by the Senate Health Committee on April 24.

As for AB 900, CSAC has joined with hospital representatives, county affiliates, health advocates and legislators from both sides of the aisle to support the elimination of the AB 97 rate cuts to distinct part skilled nursing facilities and the retroactive payments associated with those cuts. AB 900 will allow these facilities to continue to provide critical post-hospital care. The Assembly Health Committee will hear AB 900 on April 30.

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