2014 Year End Legislative Summary

Senate Bill 940 (Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) - California Conservatorship Act

This bill reflects the California Law Review Commission recommendations to adopt the Uniform Adult Guardianship Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA) in California. The California Council closely followed the Law Revision Commission proceedings over several years and helped influence their final recommendations regarding UAGPPJA as California lags the nation in adopting UAGAPPJA, with 37 other states and territories already following the model law endorsed by the national Alzheimer’s Association. If passed, this bill streamlines the burdensome and costly guardianship process for both residents of California and their guardians as well as for out-of-state cases seeking reciprocity in California. This law provides legal relief during care transitions between states, in situations where there is long distance caregiving, and when a care recipient is traveling out of state. Passage of SB 940 is a state and national priority of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Status: SB 940 passed both the Senate Judiciary and Appropriations committees unanimously with bi-partisan support; the bill is now on the Senate Floor, where it needs to pass out of its “house of origin” before moving to the Assembly for another round of policy and fiscal hearings.

Assembly Bill 1570 (Chesbro, D-Sonoma) - RCFEs: Dementia Training

This bill is one of 17 proposed changes in law to reform California’s 7,000+ Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) in the wake of a series of tragic and avoidable or preventable incidents over the past 18 months. The California Council voted to not only support this bill, but to join the California Assisted Living Association (CALA) and Leading Age California as a co-sponsor because AB 1570 specifically addresses the Alzheimer’s Association’s legislative priority regarding “developing a dementia competent long-term care workforce.” Of note, this is also a goal area of California’s Alzheimer’s Disease State Plan. AB 1570 proposes three significant, positive changes; the bill: 1) requires dementia training in all RCFEs, not only those that advertise or promote specialized Alzheimer’s care as currently required in law; 2) doubles the number of dementia training hours for direct care staff in all RCFEs, increasing to 12 hours of dementia training before working with a resident and eight hours of in-service training annually on dementia-related topics; and 3) allows flexibility in training to include classroom instruction, on-line or web-based courses, and shadowing or observation.

Status: AB 1570 passed the Assembly Human Services committee on a 6-0 vote and is now set for hearing in Assembly Appropriations.

Assembly Bill 1552 (Lowenthal, D-Long Beach) - Community-Based Adult Services

This bill is sponsored by the California Association for Adult Day Services (CAADS) with strong support from the Alzheimer’s Association and more than a dozen aging organizations.  With the elimination of Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) as an optional Medi-Cal benefit during California’s budget crisis, the Legislature authorized a new program known as Community-Based Adult Services, or CBAS. The California Department of Aging was charged with assembling a stakeholder workgroup, which included Alzheimer’s Association representation, to draft a federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) waiver application to launch the new CBAS program in California, replacing the former ADHC program. The waiver is now in its final form and California hopes to gain CMS approval before August 1 when the implementing language expires. As an added precaution, CAADS introduced AB 1552 to ensure that there is language in the California state statute to authorize CBAS beyond August 1, and to codify the new program as a long-term services and support option. With the closure of ADHC centers statewide, providers and consumers alike are eager for the new CBAS rules to take effect so existing programs can expand and new programs can open to fill the void left when so many were forced to close their doors to Medi-Cal beneficiaries in recent years.

Status: AB 1552 passed both the Assembly Health and Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care committees unanimously with bi-partisan support. The bill is now set for hearing in the Assembly Appropriations committee.

Assembly Bill 1744 (Brown, D-San Bernardino) - California Caregiver Act of 2014

This bill, sponsored by AARP, proposes a statewide Blue Ribbon Panel on Caregiving, to include representation by the Alzheimer’s Association, to study and make recommendations for increased support of unpaid caregivers. The California Council supports this bill, and is working closely with AARP to model the Blue Ribbon Panel on the statewide task force that developed California’s Alzheimer’s disease state plan. As proposed, the bill assigns responsibility to the California Department of Aging for implementation and requires a report to the Legislature by July 1, 2016.

Status: AB 1744 passed the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care committee with unanimous support but it is being held on “suspense” in the Assembly Appropriations committee because its cost exceeds the General Fund limit of $150,000 to implement. AARP expects to gain private, foundation support for this effort similar to the path followed by the Alzheimer’s Association in developing the state plan; however, the Legislature wants AARP to produce evidence of funding support or reduce the scale of the project before it will advance the bill further in the legislative process.

Senate Bill 1127 (Torres, D-Chino) - Emergency Services: Silver Alert

This bill expands the definition of the at-risk population eligible for priority law enforcement action when reported lost or missing to include individuals under age 65 who may be cognitively impaired or developmentally disabled.  SB 1127 builds upon California’s Silver Alert law, a mechanism similar to the statewide Amber Alert, that is deployed when an individual aged 65 or older is reported missing due to wandering or other cause. The Alzheimer’s Association joins advocates for autism in supporting this bill, as we share similar concerns about individuals who may not attract public or law enforcement attention because they are older than a child and younger than a senior citizen, but who are at great risk of harm because of a cognitive impairment or a developmental disability.

Status: SB 1127 passed the Senate Human Services committee and is set for hearing in the Senate Appropriations committee where it is expected to be held on suspense due to costs exceeding $150,000 for statewide implementation.

The Alzheimer’s Association is tracking the following bills and in discussion with the bill sponsor/author about concerns:

Senate Bill 1207 (Wolk, D-Vacaville) - Voluntary Tax Check-Off

This bill proposes eventually eliminating all voluntary state income tax check-off donations (including Alzheimer’s research in 2020) and replacing the option with a write-in for eligible nonprofits, charities and public agencies. California’s tax check-off for Alzheimer’s disease has qualified continuously since 1987 to be listed on the state tax form, with over $11.7 million in competitive research awards granted to California investigators. If passed, SB 1207 would not jeopardize the Alzheimer’s disease research fund until 2020; however, the Alzheimer’s Association is working in collaboration with other tax check-off funded programs to raise concerns IF the bill passes out of the Appropriations committee where it is likely to be held on suspense due to new state costs.

Senate Bill 836 (Corbett, D-San Leandro) - Brain Research: Funding

This bill proposes a brand new state funded program to match the Obama Administration’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative. Housed within the UC system, SB 836 attempts to seize economic opportunity for California in job creation and novel science. The Alzheimer’s Association supports research, but does not see a direct corollary with this initiative to finding the cause and cure of Alzheimer’s disease. However, we have offered modest support to Senator Corbett and our UC partners, highlighting the need for further Alzheimer’s research through the state-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Centers and the federal Healthy Brain Initiative. This bill is likely to be held on suspense in the Senate Appropriations committee.

Assembly Bill 2171 (Wieckowski, D-Hayward) - RCFE Resident Rights/Psychoactive Medications

This bill is well intended but had a problematic definition of psychoactive medications under the provision that requires all residents to be free of chemical restraints.  AB 2171 defined a psychoactive medication broadly to include any medication that altered cognition which could include prescriptions such as Aricept. Assemblymember Wieckowski responded to concerns raised about this particular section of the bill and he graciously agreed to delete those sections. The bill has now been amended to the Alzheimer’s Association’s satisfaction and we are considering a support position.

All bills can be accessed via www.leginfo.ca.gov

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