Behavior Frontiers and its founder, Helen Mader, M.A., BCBA, believe that it is important to be actively engaged in public policy, which shapes the future of applied behavior analysis (ABA) services for individuals with autism and other special needs. It is critical that we are involved in the process of creating a sustainable and practical way for families to continue to have access to high-quality ABA services for their children with developmental disabilities. Behavior Frontiers is involved with tracking, providing feedback on, and advocating for or against legislation that may affect our ability to provide high-quality ABA services to our clients. Please see a list of current issues, as well as potential ways for you to take action!
 
CALIFORNIA ISSUES
 
AB 1074 (Maienschein): The bill makes updates to the Health and Safety code language that was initiated by SB 946, the Autism Insurance Mandate. It removes the requirement for paraprofessional and professional staff to be employed by a provider and it clarifies their qualifications. Furthermore, it clarifies the middle-tier supervisor job duties and removes the requirement for middle-tier supervisors to be “vendored” by the regional centers.

Behavior Frontiers has great news that AB 1074 was signed by Governor Brown in California. The language in this bill updates the original language of SB 946 (which mandated health plans to cover ABA services for autism) with the goal of removing barriers and expanding access to ABA services for individuals with autism. Please see Behavior Frontiers summary of the bill below:

 

CDCAN Disability-Senior Rights Report:  State Capitol Update - Governor Signs Two Bills (AB 384 and SB 218) Impacting Implementation of ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act in California

Governor Brown signed 2 of 3 bills regarding Signs AB 384 and SB 218. These bills impact the implementation of the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) in California. The remaining bill waiting response is AB 688.

 AB 384- The Qualified Able Program: Tax-advantaged Savings Account- Eliminating $100,000 Cap

This bill allows CalABLE Board to administer ABLE accounts for beneficiaries in other states, and removes the $100,000 cap from the exclusion from Medi-Cal eligibility purpose.

Contributions can be made to the account by eligible individuals who are not residents of the state. CalABLE will administer the accounts for these Non-Californians.

AB 384 will take effect on January 1, 2018.

SB 218- The Qualified ABLE Program: Tax-Advantaged Savings Account- Medi-Cal Estate Recovery

Assets in an ABLE account can be transferred to another ABLE account upon death of a designated beneficiary. This will prohibit the state from recovering the balance of an ABLE account to recover Medi-Cal spending.

SB 218 will take effect on September 1, 2018.

AB 688 ABLE Act- Enforcement of Money Judgments- Exemptions

Any money in, contributions or distributions (not exceeding $100,000) for disability expenses from an ABLE account, will not count toward determining eligibility for a state or local means- tested program. Any moneys in shall be exempt from enforcement of a money judgment without making a claim.

AB 688 will take effect on January 1, 2018.

NEXT STEP: Governor has until October 15th, 2017 to sign or veto bills.

More information on CalABLE: http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/able/index.asp

 

FEDERAL ISSUES

A new proposal in the U.S. Senate is an explicit attack on California's Medicaid funded services - which funds almost all disability services, and it may come before Congress for a vote this week!

Please, call your congressional representative TODAY and forcefully ask him or her to vote "no" on this attack on Californians, especially Californians with disabilities!

Click here to use a zip code and talking points program to call your representative now!

The so-called Graham-Cassidy bill is a last-ditch attempt by Senate Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) before the September 30th budget reconciliation deadline. This new proposal would end funding for the ACA's financial assistance for consumers and Medicaid expansion while also making devastating cuts to the overall Medicaid program. In addition, the proposal will allow states to waive important consumer protections and essential health benefits and undermine or eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions.  

All of this adds up to $35 billion in reduced funding to California and potentially devastating impacts for disability services. Amazingly, this is exactly what the author's of the bill hope for. Here's what former Senator Rick Santorum, an author of Graham-Cassidy bill, said on Breitbart News on August 22:

"These are the four states in order of how well they do [under the ACA]: Massachusetts, California, New York, and then Maryland... What you can do is redistribute this money that has been heaped upon these four ultra-blue, very wealthy states... If California simply wants to expand Medicaid with this money, good luck. They're going to have to cut their program dramatically because they don't have the money with what they're funding now."

We need to get our California representatives of both parties to denounce the new Graham-Cassidy bill that would repeal the ACA by eliminating vital federal funding for marketplace/exchange subsidies, Medicaid (Medi-Cal) expansion, and the core Medicaid (Medi-Cal) program.