Health and Human Services
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State Releases Final Guidance to Counties on Medicaid Citizenship and Identification
The California Department of Health Services released its final All County Letter on June 4, which provides direction to counties in implementing the new Medicaid citizenship and identification requirements from the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. To comply with the new federal law, counties must ensure that the Medi-Cal record include satisfactory evidence of U.S. citizenship or U.S. national status and identity.
The 73-page packet can be accessed online.
The final document is much improved over previous versions. Counties applaud the state for taking a thoughtful, deliberate approach to the instructions, involving stakeholders in the process of developing and revising instructions, client notices, and outreach materials.
The state was able to electronically match nearly two million of our current Medi-Cal recipients born in California against the state’s birth records database. Most of those matched were children. If the matched child is under 16, counties do not need identification from them, because their parent’s signature on the application counts as proof of identity. If they are over 16, counties will still need to get identification from them. Recipients who have been successfully matched will be getting letters in about a month from the state telling them this.
Please note that the new requirement does not change the documentation or eligibility determination process for individuals who do not declare themselves as U.S. citizens or nationals.
AB 8 (Nuñez) – Pending
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez’s AB 8 passed off the Assembly floor on June 7 after a lengthy floor debate. Please recall that this measure pertains to health care reform. AB 8 passed out on a party-line vote. Some Republicans expressed frustration that the health care reform discussion did not expand to include many of the measures that the Assembly Republican caucus introduced. Others expressed concerns about the impact on businesses and employers. AB 8 will head to the Senate for committee assignment.
AB 1113 (Brownley) – Support
AB 1113, as amended on April 24 by Assembly Member Julia Brownley, would eliminate the sunset date on the 250 Percent Working Disabled Poverty Program, which provides Medi-Cal coverage to persons with disabilities who are employed and earning up to 250 percent of the federal poverty limit. AB 1113 was passed by the Assembly on June 6 and currently awaits committee assignment in the Senate.
SB 48 (Perata) – Pending
Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata’s health reform measure, SB 48, passed off the Senate floor on June 7. The floor debate was relatively brief. Senator Perata continues to express a desire to work on the measure and garner bipartisan support.
SB 840 (Kuehl) – Pending
SB 840, Senator Sheila Kuehl’s single payer health measure, passed off the Senate floor on June 6 on a largely party-line vote. SB 840 will head to the Assembly.
Child Welfare Legislation
AB 81 (Torrico) – Oppose Unless Amended
AB 81, as amended on June 1 by Assembly Member Alberto Torrico, makes changes to the Safely Surrendered Baby law. Under current law, a parent may safely surrender a baby within 72 hours of birth. AB 81 will expand the surrender time period to 30 days. Also, funding for a statewide awareness campaign was struck from the bill on June 1.
AB 81 was passed by the Assembly on June 6, but has not yet been assigned to a Senate committee.
AB 121 (Maze) – Support
AB 121, as introduced by Assembly Member Bill Maze, would revise the definition of "qualified employee" in the Personal Income Tax Law and the Corporation Tax Law to include "qualified former foster care recipient," as defined. This would allow employers to receive a tax credit for hiring former foster care recipients. AB 121 was held Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on May 21 and did not meet the June 8 deadline for passage to the opposite house, making it a two-year bill.
AB 273 (Jones) – Support
AB 273, as introduced by Assembly Member Dave Jones, would make changes to the Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) program under the supervision of the state Department of Health Care Services by requiring that prescribed health and dental assessments must be provided to children under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court.
AB 273 was passed by the Assembly on June 6, but has not yet been assigned to a Senate committee.
AB 340 (Hancock) – Support
AB 340, as amended on March 22 by Assembly Member Loni Hancock, would establish a five-county pilot project to implement a more family friendly process for approving relatives, adoptive parents, and foster parents to care for foster children.
AB 340 was passed by the Assembly on June 5 and now heads to the Senate. It has not yet been assigned to a committee.
AB 845 (Bass) – Support
AB 845, as amended on May 24 by Assembly Member Karen Bass, appropriates $10.5 million (General Fund) to the state Department of Social Services (DSS) for funding increased costs related to the Transitional Housing for Foster Youth Program (THP-Plus). This bill is necessary to ensure that THP-Plus is 100% state-funded as intended in the 2006-07 budget.
Forty-six counties have committed to implementing THP-Plus in the current year (2006-07). However, the budget only includes $4.8 million, which is insufficient to provide services to the eligible youth in these counties. With the $10.5 million increase, the participating counties will be able to provide housing and services to more than 1,200 foster youth.
The May 24 amendments included an urgency clause, which changes the vote required to pass the bill in the Senate from a majority to two-thirds. AB 845 has been scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 14.
AB 1331 (Evans) – Support
AB 1331, as amended on March 29 by Assembly Member Noreen Evans, will require a county to screen each foster youth in its care when that youth reaches 16 1/2 years of age, in order to determine whether the youth is eligible for federal Social Security or SSI/SSP benefits. After completion of the screening, the measure will also require the county to make the application for benefits on the youth's behalf.
AB 1331 was passed by the Assembly on June 5 and now heads to the Senate.
AB 1578 (Leno) – Support
AB 1578, as amended April 26 by Assembly Member Mark Leno, is called the Foster Youth Higher Education Preparation and Support Act and would provide grant funding to operate an education-based foster youth services program to provide educational and support services for foster children. Additionally, AB 1578 would also authorize new Cal Grant B awards for tuition and fees in the first year for current or former foster youth attend college. The bill would also establish the California Guardian Scholars Program for purposes of providing comprehensive support on college and university campuses to students who are former foster youth.
The Assembly passed AB 1578 on June 5, but it has not yet been set for hearing in the Senate.