CSAC Bulletin Article

Health and Human Services 04/27/2012

Budget Hearings Continue with a Focus on Drug Medi-Cal and the Governor’s Care Coordination Initiative 

Budget hearings moved forward this week by focusing on the transfer of Drug Medi-Cal (DMC) to counties under realignment (Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1) and the Governor’s Care Coordination Initiative (Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 3). 

Both committees left the issues of interest to counties open pending the release of the May Revision budget on May 14. 

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1, chaired by Assembly Member Holly Mitchell, will meet on Wednesday, May 2 to broadly discuss 2011 Realignment issues, including child welfare services. The Senate Subcommittee No. 3 may meet to hear “open issues,” but has not yet formally scheduled additional hearings at this time.


AB 1673 (Mitchell) – Support
As Amended on April 9, 2012

AB 1673, as introduced by Assembly Member Holly Mitchell, would streamline eligibility for child care subsidies. Specifically, AB 1673 would require a 12-month eligibility period, and impose limited interim reporting requirements for families enrolled in certain programs. These changes will make the eligibility process more efficient for both counties and families. 

The Assembly Appropriations Committee heard AB 1673 on April 25 and placed it on their suspense file. 

AB 1970 (Skinner) – Support
As Amended on April 19, 2012

AB 1970, by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, would streamline the eligibility structure across the CalWORKs, CalFresh, and Medi-Cal programs.

This measure, titled the Social Services Modernization and Efficiency Act of 2012, would conform eligibility requirements for the above programs to existing federal law, allow recipients to choose electronic forms for certain types of communication, interviews, and notices, and simplifies the interview process for people in immediate need of benefits. The measure will also codify the practice of recertifying CalFresh households at the end of their Traditional CalFresh Period to prevent lapses in nutritional benefits. 
Counties also support the provision requiring the state to make state plans for changes in service to the federal government electronically available, and Assembly Member Skinner recently amended the bill to ensure that individuals with small children are not penalized if they are meeting the federal 20-hour work requirement in CalWORKs. 

Taken all together, these small modernization changes will streamline human service programs for recipients and counties, and serve to illustrate the efficiencies to be gained from the careful use of technology. The Assembly Appropriations Committee passed the measure on April 25, and it is now on the Assembly Floor. 

AB 1998 (Achadjian) – Support
As Amended on April 12, 2012

AB 1998, by Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian, would help bridge the “digital divide” by allowing counties to donate surplus computer property directly to recipients of public assistance to aid in employment and assistance efforts.

CSAC supports AB 1998, which is now on the Assembly Floor. 

AB 2352 (Hernández) – Support
As Introduced on February 24, 2012

AB 2352, by Assembly Member Roger Hernández, would allow CalWORKs applicants and recipients to own reliable cars by deleting the requirement that counties assess the value of a motor vehicle when determining or redetermining CalWORKs eligibility. 

AB 2352 is similar to last year’s AB 1182, which was vetoed by the Governor. Counties believe that this change will promote work participation and self-sufficiency among low-income California families and eventually help CalWORKs recipients move off of public aid. It is for these reasons that we support Assembly Member Hernández’s measure again this year. 
The Assembly Human Services Committee passed AB 2352 on April 24, and it will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 2469 (Grove) – Oppose
As Amended on April 17, 2012

AB 2469, by Assembly Member Shannon Grove, would make all recipients of CalWORKs benefits subject to periodic testing for use of controlled substances and prescription drugs for which the person does not have a valid prescription. Individuals who tested positive would be required to successfully complete a one-year treatment program before being eligible for benefits under the program. 

CSAC, along with the County Welfare Directors Association, have informed the author that counties currently have processes in place to identify and respond to substance abuse by recipients, including treatment programs that they work with regularly. Counties take the issue of substance abuse seriously and have trained staff to recognize the signs of substance abuse and utilize screening tools to engage recipients in a discussion that leads to a referral for services. Over the past 10 years, the percentage of CalWORKs parents receiving substance abuse services has tripled, and counties are now spending about $50 million a year on treatment. 
We are also concerned with the potential for substantial increased costs that would be associated with the random drug testing and treatment programs proposed by AB 2469. Because the CalWORKs program does not have sufficient unspent funds that could be put toward this effort, it would require funds to be shifted from elsewhere in the program or be spent from the General Fund in order to conduct tests and provide treatment. While some savings might ultimately be achieved from discontinuing eligibility for some recipients, the cost of every negative test would be reimbursed pursuant to the bill. Based on experiences in other states, we assume that nearly every test would be negative and thus paid for by the state of California.

The Assembly Human Services Committee was scheduled to hear AB 2469 on April 24, but the measure was pulled from the agenda. It is unclear when and whether it will be heard in that committee again.

Child Welfare Services/Foster Care

SB 1432 (Steinberg) – Pending
As Proposed to be Amended

SB 1432, by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, is a measure supported by children’s advocates to impose additional state oversight over the child welfare services (CWS) system, which was realigned to counties in 2011. 

CSAC, along with the County Welfare Directors Association, have concerns about the measure. The Assembly Human Services Committee heard, amended, and passed SB 1432 on April 25. The amendments are not yet in print, and the measure will be heard next by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

AB 1712 (Beall) – Support
As Amended on March 21, 2012

AB 1712, by Assembly Member Jim Beall, is a technical clean up measure relating to 2010’s Fostering Connections to Success Act. The Act extended foster care services to youth up to age 21 and helps the state draw down additional foster care funding from the federal government. 

AB 1712 was created with input from counties, foster family agencies, and myriad other stakeholders, all with a singular goal in mind: To make foster care services as accessible and efficient as possible for all youth and non-minor dependents that need them. 

The Assembly Human Services Committee made technical amendments to AB 1712 on April 24 and passed the measure. After the amendments are incorporated, it will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

AB 1928 (Cook) – Support
As Amended on April 18, 2012

AB 1928, by Assembly Member Paul Cook, would clarify current regulations to help increase the number and availability of specialized foster care homes in our counties by clarifying the conditions under which the number of foster children placed in a specialized foster care home may be increased from two to three. 

CSAC, along with the County Welfare Directors Association, support the bill. The Assembly Human Services Committee passed AB 1928 on April 24, and recommended it for the Assembly Appropriations Committee’s consent calendar.


AB 1560 (Fuentes) – Support
As Introduced on January 30, 2012

AB 1560, by Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes, will help low-income families who are eligible for the state’s Medi-Cal program to also receive CalFresh nutritional benefits. 

Specifically, AB 1560 would waive the gross income test for any individual who receives, or is eligible to receive, Medi-Cal medical benefits. The measure would also allow those who live in households with those who receive or are eligible to receive Medi-Cal benefits to qualify for the CalFresh program. 

CSAC supports AB 1560, which was heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on April 25. The Appropriations Committee placed it on their suspense file.

Public Health

AB 2246 (Pérez, J.) – Support
As Amended on April 23, 2012

AB 2246, by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, requires the new California Healthy Food Financing Initiative Council to establish and maintain a web site that outlines information on the Council’s actions to support access to healthy foods by March 31, 2013. 

The measure builds upon the Speaker’s AB 581 from 2011, which created the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative to promote access to healthy food throughout California. Counties support these efforts to combat “food deserts” within communities – areas with little to no access to quality foods that are both healthy and affordable. 

CSAC supported AB 581 last year and now supports AB 2246. The Assembly Agriculture Committee passed the measure on April 25 and recommended that it be placed on the Assembly Appropriations Committee’s consent calendar. 

AB 2268 (Eng) – Concerns
As Amended on March 29, 2012

AB 2268, by Assembly Member Mike Eng, would have required state and local agencies to create a undefined mechanism to supplement geographically based and regional funding strategies for health and human services as well as educational services. 

CSAC, jointly with the League of California Cities, sent a letter of concerns about AB 2268 to both the Assembly Human Services and Assembly Local Government Committees, in which the measure was scheduled to be heard this week. However, it was pulled by the author from the Human Services Committee, and must be re-referred to the Local Government Committee. 

AB 2586 (Hueso) – Support
As Amended on March 29, 2012

AB 2586, by Assembly Member Ben Hueso, would establish the California Healthy Choices Program to certify grocery stores that promote healthy food choices. 

Specifically, AB 2586 would require the state Department of Food and Agriculture to charge grocery stores a certification fee to be designated as a California Healthy Choices site. The certification program is voluntary for grocery stores, and the fees would be used to promote the program and its participants. 

Counties support efforts to increase access to healthy foods and to promote healthy food choices throughout our communities. AB 2586 will be heard by the Assembly Agriculture Committee on May 9.

Adult Protective Services

AB 2149 (Butler) – Support
As Introduced on February 23, 2012 

AB 2149, by Assembly Member Betsy Butler, would allow victims of elder abuse to continue to contact, cooperate with or file a claim of elder abuse regardless of whether a civil settlement action has been rendered. 
AB 2149 failed passage in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on April 10, but it is in the process of being amended and may be heard next by the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee.

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