Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CDCAN: Joint Informational Hearing by Legislature October 28

Again message wasn't emailed to me until 12:07 today and I didn't read it until 3:30-ish. So, this is almost too late to act on but here it is. Comments that are underlined were underlined by me.

Implementation of IHSS Budget Reductions and Policy Changes Focus of Joint Informational Hearing By Legislature October 28th
Joint Hearing by Assembly Budget Committee and Senate Budget Subcommittee #3 on Health and Human Services Will Hear From 4 Panels on Reported Widespread Problems and Concerns – No Public Testimony But Comment Cards and Letters Will Be Taken

SACRAMENTO, CALIF (CDCAN) [Updated 10/27/09  11:20 AM  (Pacific Time)  - With major concerns and problems being reported across the state on the implementation of budget reductions and policy changes to the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program impacting over 450,000 children and adults with disabilities, mental health needs, the blind and low income seniors, a joint hearing of the Assembly Budget Committee and the Senate Budget Subcommittee #3 on Health and Human Services, is scheduled for Wednesday, October 28, 2009, at 1:00 PM at the State Capitol in Room 4202.   

The unusual joint hearing of the Assembly Budget Committee – chaired by Assemblymember Noreen Evans (Democrat – Santa Rosa) and the Senate Budget Subcommittee #3 on Health and Human Services – chaired by State Sen. Mark Leno (Democrat – San Francisco), should be televised by Cal Channel or viewed on the Cal Channel website at www.calchannel.com [CDCAN will issue a full report immediately following the hearing]

The IHSS cuts and policy changes also impact hundreds of thousands of IHSS workers and the families of the IHSS recipients, counties, community based organizations and regional centers. 

The IHSS budget reductions and program changes – along with major cuts to other health and human service programs including regional centers, Medi-Cal and other areas of the state budget - were made this year as part of the effort by the Legislature and Governor to close a budget gap of over $40  billion in February – and over $23 billion in July. 

Hearing Comes After Federal Court Rulings Stopping Some Cuts
The joint committee hearing comes after recent federal court rulings in late June, and earlier this month that stopped two of the major budget reductions to the IHSS program that would have narrowed eligibility and reduced domestic and related services using a little known assessment scoring and ranking tool, and a reduction in state funding toward IHSS worker wages.  While the State is appealing both rulings to the USth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal court required the Schwarzenegger Administration to comply and stop those cuts immediately.

Other Lawsuits Filed or Being Considered On IHSS Cuts
A state lawsuit filed in State Superior Court to stop the elimination of the IHSS “share of cost buy-out” program that was eliminated October 1 as part of the revised 2009-2010 State Budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in late July, is pending – though prospects for the state court to intervene at this stage does not appear good at this point.

Other lawsuits are being considered or are moving forward, though not yet filed, impacting the IHSS worker background checks, unannounced home visits by state agencies to homes of IHSS recipients and possibly fingerprinting requirements of both IHSS workers and recipients.    

Concerns Raised About November 1st Implementation of Other IHSS Cuts
Other reductions – including new requirements for background checks and fingerprinting of IHSS workers, elimination of the “share of cost buy-out” program – have either gone into effect or will go into effect November 1st.

Several counties have sent official letters to the Schwarzenegger Administration indicating major concerns and problems in trying to meet the November 1, 2009 deadline to implement new budget related requirements for IHSS workers (sometimes known as “providers”) and for persons receiving IHSS.  Some counties indicated that they would be unable to implement any of the new requirements until the Department of Social Services – the state agency within the Schwarzenegger Administration that oversees the IHSS program – sends out additional details that the counties say are critical in carrying out the new worker and recipient requirements. 

Other issues raised by advocacy groups and the counties included concerns regarding the various notices from the Department of Social Services containing instructions and guidelines to implement the various reductions and policy changes (contained in documents called “All County Letters” and “All County Information Notices”). 

A CDCAN Townhall Telemeeting held October 21 with representatives of various statewide and local advocacy groups and individuals attracted hundreds of people across the State that brought up reports of widespread confusion, panic and concerns regarding the IHSS budget reductions and program changes. [a complete audio recording of that townhall telemeeting is available for free on the CDCAN website at www.cdcan.us ]

Hearing Will Focus on Implementation Issues
Those issues – along with others related to the IHSS program will be heard in the October 28th informational hearing by the Assembly Budget Committee.  No formal action or vote will be taken at that hearing. 

No public testimony – other than those coming from people from the various panels scheduled to provide information to the committee – will be taken.  However the committee will take comments from the general public via comment cards that will be available at the hearing, or through letters to the committee office. 

Assembly Budget Committee
Attention: Assemblymember Noreen Evans, Chair
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Senate Budget Subcommittee #3 on Health and Human Services
Attention: Sen. Mark Leno, Chair
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

The joint committee agenda for the hearing October 28th is (for official copy of the agenda below and for background paper for this hearing, and copies of the county letters to the State, and background documents of this hearing, go to the CDCAN website at www.cdcan.us)

Oversight Hearing on Implementation of Recent Changes in the In-Home Supportive Services Program
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 – State Capitol Room 4202

I. Overview of Recent Program Changes in the In-Home Supportive Services Program IHSS
Ginni Bella, Legislative Analyst's Office
II. State Implementation Process and Outcomes
·         John Wagner, Director, California Department of Social Services (DSS)
·         Eva Lopez, Deputy Director, Adult Programs Division, DSS
III. County Concerns and Feedback on Capacity to Implement Changes
·         Frank Mecca, Executive Director, County Welfare Directors Association of California
·         Diane Kaljian, Adult and Aging Services Director, Sonoma County Human Services Department
IV. Reaction Panel and Impact of Implementation on Consumers
·         Deborah Doctor, Legislative Advocate, Disability Rights California [formerly Protection and Advocacy Inc or PAI]
·         Jovan Agee, Political & Legislative Director, United Domestic Workers of America / AFSCME
·         Laphonza Butler, Co-Trustee, Service Employees International Union – United Long Term Care Workers
·         Donna Calame, Executive Director, San Francisco IHSS Public Authority

Comment cards will be available and received at the hearing from members of the public who would like to submit written testimony.

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