CSAC Bulletin Article

Health and Human Services 06/08/2012

Full Budget Committee Review of May Revision Begins 

The Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee met yesterday in the first of several scheduled meetings to hear issues related to the Governor’s May Revision proposals. The full Assembly Budget Committee is expected to meet next week as well, as both houses are working to present and vote on a full 2012-13 budget package (including trailer bill language) by next Thursday, June 14. The Constitutional deadline for the Legislature to vote on a budget is June 15. 

The Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, chaired by Senator Mark Leno, heard about 40 items and took action on the following health and human services related issues yesterday:

  • Approved $2,543,000 for a new California Healthcare Eligibility, Enrollment, and Retention System (CalHEERS). This is the California Health Benefits Exchange’s automated enrollment system to help consumers purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The Committee also approved 16 positions for the project, and conforming language with the Assembly that requires the Department of Finance to monitor and approve funding and to notify the Legislature of such approvals 30 days in advance.
  • Also approved $1,400,000 to implement changes to the MEDS system and Medi-Cal’s share of the above-mentioned CalHEERS project, and $18 million for possible changes to the SAWS system.
  • By unanimous vote, shifted $40 million in state First 5 Commission funding to the Medi-Cal program for services to children aged five and under.
  • Approved the shift of $14.7 million from Local Child Support Agencies in 2012-13, but also adopted language indicating that the shift “shall not result in a reduction to caseworker staffing levels or collections.” This action received a unanimous vote from the Committee.
  • Approved $1.2 million and three limited-term positions for the Department of Education to continue to oversee and monitor the transition of mental health services for special education students from counties to schools (formerly known as the AB 3632 mandate).
  • Approved adding a factor to the algorithm that assigns people who have not indicated a preference for a provider in Medi-Cal Managed Care. The additional factor, as approved by the Committee, would be health plan cost. The Committee scored $2.4 million in savings from this proposal.
  • Approved the Governor’s proposal to implement Medi-Cal copays for “non-emergency emergency room usage” and pharmacy services. Medi-Cal beneficiaries would pay a $15 copay for a visit to the ER that is determined to be non-emergency in nature. There are questions about how to qualify such visits, and which entity would make the determination. For non-preferred drugs, beneficiaries would pay $3.10. The Committee scored $20 million in saving for this proposal.
  • In the area of Child Welfare Services (CWS) under 2011 Realignment, the Committee adopted language that requires the development of oversight workgroups and performance targets; requires the Department of Social Services to report CWS outcome and fiscal data to the Legislature annually, and language to require a “transparent, local public process” before a county can “significantly” change expenditures on “optional” programs under CWS realignment. The Committee also approved the Assembly Subcommittee No. 1’s recommendations to retain 11.5 Department of Social Services staff positions to implement the above state oversight provisions.
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