CSAC Bulletin Article

Health and Human Services update 4/11/2014

Consumers Have Until April 15 to Enroll in Covered California

Responding to a high volume of consumer interest that swamped Covered California’s phone lines and online application system in the final days leading up to the close of open enrollment on March 31, Covered California announced that it is allowing consumers until April 15 to contact an enrollment expert and complete their application for health coverage. The deadline for getting coverage in the state exchange’s first open-enrollment period was March 31, 2014. The high volumes slowed the system and may have prevented some consumers from meeting the deadline.

In response to those technical issues, Covered California is allowing consumers until April 15 to contact an enrollment expert and complete their application for May 1 health coverage. They can get assistance by visiting the website at www.CoveredCA.com.

Covered California set the following policy on March 31:

  • Consumers who missed the March 31 deadline for enrollment because of technical difficulties can contact Covered California Service Center representatives, Covered California Certified Enrollment Counselors, Covered California Certified Insurance Agents, Certified Plan-Based Enrollers and county eligibility workers to explain that they attempted to get through on March 31 and experienced difficulties. Those consumers will have until 11:59 p.m. April 15 to work with the assister to complete their application and choose a plan.
  • Consumers who created an online account and completed the first page of the application by 11:59 p.m. March 31 will be able to complete their application for the open-enrollment period, either by themselves online or with the help of a certified assister. Consumers must complete the application and select a plan by 11:59 p.m. April 15. Those enrollees will receive coverage effective May 1.
  • Paper applications needed to be postmarked by March 31. Assisters who helped consumers fill out paper applications may submit the applications electronically by April 15.

To get coverage beginning May 1 and avoid a tax penalty for lack of insurance, enrollees must also pay their premium by the payment deadline. Covered California’s open enrollment is now closed. Individuals with specified circumstances (such as job loss or divorce) will be able to enroll in the exchange throughout the year.

Medi-Cal

SB 1339 (Canella) – Pending/Request for Comment
As Introduced February 21, 2014

SB 1339 by Senator Canella was introduced in response to the fraud cases uncovered in the Drug Medi-Cal program last year. Specifically, the measure would require a county or the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to obtain criminal background information from facility owners and key staff of a certified Drug Medi-Cal provider before contracting with that provider. Additionally, the bill would authorize a county or the DHCS to contract with a certified DMC provider irrespective of the contents of the state summary criminal history information. SB 1339 is set for hearing on April 23, 2014.

CSAC is seeking input on this measure from counties. Please contact Kelly Brooks-Lindsey (kbrooks@counties.org) with comments.

Public Guardian

AB 1725 (Maienschein) – Oppose
As Introduced on February 14, 2014

AB 1725, by Assembly Member Brian Maienschein, would expand the scope of the conservatorship statute to allow interested persons or probate court judges to compel county conservatorship investigations. While counties recognize Assembly Member Maienschein’s and the sponsors’ laudable intent to steer those who are suffering from substance use disorders or other debilitating illnesses into treatment and supportive services, nothing in AB 1725 will expand the availability of treatment, services, or funding for this population.

AB 1725 would also expand the definition of the cause of grave disability to include substance use disorders and addiction. AB 1725 would also allow a family member or “interested person” to directly petition the probate court to establish a conservatorship. It would further authorize the probate court to recommend an LPS conservatorship to the county conservatorship officer and compel the officer to conduct a conservatorship investigation. AB 1725 also includes an unrealistic mandate requiring the conservatorship officer to complete the investigation and file a copy of the findings within 30 days of the court’s recommendation. 

The single point of entry and time limitation for conservatorship – with involvement by the Legislature, the courts, and counties – was designed to balance the rights of potential conservatees with the general welfare of both the individual and the public. The current conservatorship process operates under a robust statutory framework, provides for multiple levels of accountability, and can assist those who truly meet the definition of gravely disabled. It is for these reasons that counties oppose the provisions of AB 1725 as introduced. This measure was scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Health Committee on April 8, but it has been postponed until April 22. Counties with concerns must submit letters by April 15. AB 1725 has also been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. 

Mental Health

SB 1054 (Steinberg) – Support
As Amended on April 7, 2014

SB 1054, by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, would resurrect the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction (MIOCR) grant program by providing $25 million for juvenile offenders and $25 million for adult offenders in 2014-15. 

The competitive grant program would be administered by the Board of State and Community Corrections and disbursements would be made from the Recidivism Reduction Fund to counties that expand or establish a continuum of swift, certain, and graduated responses to reduce crime and criminal justice costs related to mentally ill offenders over four years. 
CSAC strongly supports Senator Steinberg’s efforts to target funding for intensive services to those who suffer from mental illness in the criminal justice system. The Senate Public Safety Committee will hear SB 1054 on April 22. CSAC submitted a joint Administration of Justice and Health and Human Services letter in strong support of the measure.

Social Services

SB 909 (Pavley) – Support
As Amended on April 10, 2014

SB 909, by Senator Fran Pavley, would permit a social worker to authorize an initial noninvasive medical, dental, and mental health screening for children in temporary custody after an initial examination without parental consent or a court order. 

SB 909 is sponsored by Los Angeles County and will assist all counties in expediting needed health care for the children in our custody. Further, this measure is not a mandate and may reduce county costs by allowing children to receive basic medical care before mounting a costly effort to gain parental or judicial consent. It was amended this week to clarify that the initial examination would not include any invasive medical procedures. 

CSAC strongly supports SB 909, which was amended and passed to the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Senate Human Services Committee on April 8. 

SB 1029 (Hancock) – Support
As Amended on April 10, 2014

SB 1029, by Senator Loni Hancock, would authorize CalWORKs and CalFresh benefits for individuals in the community who were convicted of a drug felony after December 31, 1997. CSAC supports the measure, which was passed by the Senate Human Services Committee on April 8. The Senate Appropriations Committee will hear the bill next. 

It should also be noted that the Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Health and Human Services heard this issue as part of their agenda on April 9. CSAC and several counties registered their support for the proposal, which the Committee left open for a future vote. 

AB 1452 (Stone) – Support
As Amended on April 2, 2014

AB 1452, by Assembly Member Mark Stone, would increase the amount of homeless assistance funding available to a family of four from $65 to $75 and increase the daily maximum based on family size to $135. It would also require annual adjustments of the amount based on increases or decreases in cost of living expenses. 

CSAC supports the measure, which was heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week. The Committee placed it on their Suspense File due to projected net costs of more than $6 million annually.

AB 2379 (Weber) – Support
As Introduced on February 21, 2014

AB 2379, by Assembly Member Shirley Weber, would increase information sharing among county Child Welfare Services (CWS) and Adult Protective Services (APS) systems. 

AB 2379 is a simple, common-sense bill to increase communication among the CWS and APS systems that will help prevent abuse at any age. It is not a mandate and has no fiscal impacts other than to save the pain, suffering, and costs associated with ongoing dependent adult abuse. It is for these reasons CSAC supports AB 2379, which was passed by the Assembly Human Services Committee on April 8. It will be heard next by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, but a hearing date has not yet been set.

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