2012 State Public Policy Accomplishments
With the State of California facing another significant budget deficit, Alzheimer’s Association staff and their army of volunteers continued to advocate for policies that ensure individuals living with the disease are properly cared for and protected. We supported legislation that protected and strengthened vital services, promoted greater variety and accessibility of programs, and ensured families can afford and retain the insurance policies that help ensure their loved ones receive the care they need.
We protected two important home and community-based services from elimination – the Caregiver Resource Centers and the Domestic & Related Services benefit in the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program. Despite a budget that proposed over $4 billion in cuts, we successfully prevented the Governor from achieving his proposal to eliminate all funding for these two important caregiver resources.
The funding for the California Alzheimer’s Disease Centers was not subject to reduction in the Governor’s 2012 budget, although there were rumors that it might be.
We continued to be involved in discussions regarding the Coordinated Care Initiative and the Duals Demonstration Project.
We worked with other advocates to refine a well-intended elder abuse reporting bill (AB 40 – Yamada) so that instances of suspected elder abuse carried out by an individual with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another dementia were handled appropriately by mandated reporters.
We continue to work with the Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Aging, and Department of Public Health, as well as the Governor’s office and the Legislature. We continue to be part of several coalitions, including the California Collaborative for Long-Term Services and Supports, POLST task force, In-Home Supportive Services coalition, and Alzheimer’s Advisory Committee, to name a few.
The State Public Policy office attended the California Law Revision Commission meetings throughout the year and advocated in favor of the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA). The State Public Policy Director communicated with the both the Executive Director and Chief Deputy Counsel in efforts to accelerate the review process, and the Law Revision Commission has since undertaken a more active review of the various components of the model legislation. As of the final meeting of 2012, it appears as though the Law Revision Commission is preparing to develop a draft working paper that will lead to further review and, hopefully, the introduction of legislation in 2014.
We worked with our federal Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. to ensure funding for two important modules in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS): the Caregiver Module and the Cognitive Impairment Module. Both modules will provide important public health data that can both increase awareness and drive public policies that promote brain health, provide adequate supports and services for caregivers, and more.
The data is slated to be released in early 2013.
We helped pass SB 1047 (Alquist), which will institute a Silver Alert System in California. This will help law enforcement quickly find missing seniors by allowing California Highway Patrol to issue and coordinate alerts to inform the public when a senior person is missing. Law enforcement will now be able to issue alerts when a senior is missing and they have reason to believe they are in danger because of their age, health, mental health, physical disability, weather conditions, etc. Given that six in ten individuals with Alzheimer’s will wander at some point, we are proud to have been involved in the successful effort to implement this system in California.
We succeeded in gaining passage of AB 1525 (Allen and Alejo), which will require money transmitters to provide their contracted agents with training materials on recognizing and reporting elder or dependent adult financial abuse.
We helped pass AB 1747 (Feuer), which will help ensure that life insurance policies are not mistakenly terminated due to lapses in payment. The legislation institutes a series of requirements, including a 60-day grace period for payment lapses, and the right of a policy holder to designate at least one other person to receive a notice of lapse or termination of a policy. For those living with Alzheimer’s disease, this will help ensure their designated caregivers and/or loved ones are notified of any potential payment lapses, which will help avoid the unintended cancellation of life insurance policies.
We successfully advocated for SB 1228 (Alquist), which will create a Small House Skilled Nursing Facilities Pilot Program within the Department of Public Health. The program will provide skilled nursing care in homelike, non-institutional settings in up to 10 pilot centers, which will operate within residential units and be staffed by Certified Nurse Assistants.
We succeeded in gaining passage of SB 135 (Hernandez), which will create a new health facility licensing category for hospice facilities. By codifying this small hospice facility licensing category, patients that cannot safely remain in their home will have access to an additional alternative to nursing homes. With the rapid growth of hospices nationwide, the expansion of hospice licensing in California will help meet a growing need while preventing unnecessary nursing home placement, thereby saving the state money.
We joined with other organizations to support the passage of AB 999 (Yamada), which will modify the long-term care insurance rate setting process and better ensure that rates are set accurately.
Nearly 200 volunteers and staff traveled to Sacramento for our annual Advocacy Day, which carried the theme of “Stand WITH Caregivers.” Held on the West Steps of the State Capitol, our army of advocates spent the morning learning about Caregiver Resource Centers and the IHSS Domestic & Related Services benefit from a series of speakers. Three members of the Legislature also attended and spoke to the group about the importance of advocacy. After spending their lunch break strategizing, our volunteers stormed the Capitol, visiting every Legislative office armed with talking points, fact sheets, and personal stories. Evaluations from participants declared it was the best Advocacy Day ever.
We collaborated with representatives of the various tax check-off funds to identify and reach out to organizations that might help fund radio advertisements promoting tax check-off. It is our intent that these funds will be used to purchase airtime in key radio markets and promote the tax check-off campaigns.