California Budget

MSSC must champion reliable and relevant funding for community-based supportive services to meet the needs of Alameda County’s rapidly growing older adult population.
– SSC’s 2017 Policy Agenda

Rebuilding

Over the past six years, California dismantled much of its safety net for seniors and people with disabilities. This continued disinvestment in Older Californians Act and other impactful services has left the state unprepared to address the needs of its aging population. As the state establishes a new economic stability, will it have the foresight to invest in the services that help seniors maintain health and economic stability? The state’s budget policies over the next two years will be telling.

Recent Developments

April 6, 2018 – The Senior Services Coalition is at the state capitol a lot lately, urging legislators to end years of flat funding for aging services.  We are pushing for increased state investment in all programs in the Department of Aging in Fiscal 18-19, and commitments to maintain the new baselines going forward.

At the same time, we are supporting a number of formal budget requests that are being considered by the Senate and Assembly budget committees:

  • $5.1 million in new funding for the Multi-Purpose Senior Services Program/MSSP (click here to read).
  • $17 million for Nutrition Programs (click here to read).
  • $7.29 million for Local Long Term Care Ombudsman Programs (click here to read).
  • $10 million for Adult Protective Services Home Safe Pilot (click here to read).
  • $3 million for the LTSS Budget Data Proposal (click here to read).
  • $2.2 million for an Alzheimer’s Disease Public Awareness Campaign (click here to read).

If the state pays its fair share, older Californians can have the support they need to live safe and stable lives in their communities.

February 15, 2018 – Why hasn’t California made the investments that are needed to build an adequate infrastructure for aging? Demographic trends clearly show the state’s aging population is on a collision course with the inadequate supply of lack of low-cost community alternatives to nursing home placement. So why are we stuck with 20th century funding?  

California’s Governor and Legislature continue to rely on federal funding for the majority of existing aging services, while keeping much needed state investment at minimum match levels. This budgetary neglect has resulted in inadequate capacity, limited access, health disparities and suffering.

This neglect of aging services – and of seniors – is unacceptable.

SSC is going to Sacramento to demand adequate funding for aging services.  We need the voices of older people, their families and the community-based organizations that serve them.

How can you help?  Put one or more of these actions on your calendar:

  • Plan to join us at the State Capitol for two key budget hearings – March 8 and March 21.

 

  • Participate in call-in days on March 7, March 13 and March 20.  We’ll send out instructions and scripts the day before.

 

  • Fax targeted letters from your organization to key budget committees.  We’ll send a set of sample letters each week so you can target key committee hearings.

WATCH FOR SSC ACTION ALERTS! We’ll send you the details each week and make it easy for you to take action and make your voice heard.

Click here for SSC’s State Policy Platform.

Click here to read SSC’s summary of how the Governor’s proposed budget could directly impact seniors and senior services in Alameda County.

January 24, 2018 – On January 10 the Governor released his proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year. In spite of an improved economic forecast for California, the spending plan continues the Governor’s cautious approach to the state’s finances, focusing on building the state’s reserves.

The proposed budget has its good points.  It would fully fund the state’s ACA/Covered California. It funds supplemental payments to Medi-Cal providers (though not to ADHC/CBAS) and covers growth in the Medi-Cal program. It funds rate and utilization increases for Medi-Cal medically necessary, in-home services in the fee-for-service system or home, and community-based services waivers. It includes increases in IHSS to cover caseload growth, paid sick leave and minimum wage increases.

In the big picture?  The Governor has ignored the deepening poverty of older Californians, their growing numbers, and the urgent need to invest in the aging services ecosystem. He includes nothing to address low SSI/SSP grant levels, or to replace federal cuts to HICAP. Nor does he propose building adequate capacity for Adult Day Services, senior nutrition or other programs that are needed to improve life and health outcomes for older Californians.

This neglect of aging services is unacceptable.  In coming months, SSC will be in Sacramento regularly and will be calling on you to add you voice as we call for adequate funding.

Click here to read SSC’s summary of how the Governor’s proposal that could directly impact seniors and senior services in Alameda County. For a deeper analysis of the entire budget, click here to check out the California Budget and Policy Center’s report.

July 25, 2017 – On June 27 Governor Jerry Brown signed the Budget for fiscal 2017-18. The spending plan fully restores Medi-Cal’s adult dental and vision benefits, and includes funding to mitigate the impact to counties as they take on a larger share of In-Home Supportive Services costs.  In addition, it uses Prop 56 tobacco tax revenues to fund supplemental payments to Medi-Cal providers (although not, sadly, for Adult Day Health Care providers).

Ultimately, the budget ignores the growing number of older Californians, their deepening poverty, and the urgent need to invest in the aging services ecosystem.  

Click here for SSC’s summary of how California’s 2017-18 Budget will impact seniors and senior services in Alameda County.

May 17, 2017 – Last week Governor Brown released the “May Revise” of his proposed FY 2017-18 budget. It continues the Governor’s cautious approach to the state’s finances, yet forecasts higher revenues over the next three years and makes several improvements over the January budget proposal, including funding to offset a large portion of the IHSS costs that are being shifted to counties.

However, the budget proposal fails to increase SSI/SSP grant levels for aged, blind and disabled Californians living in poverty, and ignores the urgent need to invest in supportive and health care services for seniors.

Click here for SSC’s summary of the items in Governor Brown’s revised 2017-18 budget proposal that would directly impact seniors and senior services in Alameda County.

For a deeper analysis of the entire budget proposal, check out www.CalBudgetCenter.org.

What’s next? The State Assembly and Senate Budget Subcommittees will wrap up hearings by the end of next week. Then a budget conference committee will be formed with members from both houses to resolve differences between the Assembly and Senate budgets.  The final budget plan will be voted on by both houses by June 15.

February 20, 2017 – When Governor Brown released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017/18, he included in it a plan to discontinue the Coordinated Care Initiative. Why is this deeply concerning for us in Alameda County? Because most of the “savings” the state stands to gain from ending CCI would come from returning to the pre-CCI arrangement that the state had with counties to split the non-federal cost of the IHSS program. That could mean a hit to our County’s 17/18 budget of $32 million.

The loss would not translate into cuts to services or hours – only the legislature can mandate such reductions. Instead, the County would have to accommodate the loss by other means, and discretionary spending that is not protected by entitlements could be severely impacted.

The Governor acknowledges that this shift would be a financial hardship for counties, but he does not offer a solution, except to say that his administration is willing to work with counties to explore possible solutions that mitigate the hardship. We know that the California State Association of Counties is actively engaged – the IHSS Cost Shift is at the top of their 2017 Priorities – and Supervisor Keith Carson is the CSAC President this year. Local advocates next steps will depend on CSAC’s success. Stay tuned.

January 25, 2017 – On January 10, 2017, Governor Brown released his proposed budget for California’s fiscal year 2017-18. Cautiousness characterizes the Governor’s approach. Expecting an economic downturn within the next few years, and mindful of possible federal actions that could have dire fiscal impact on California, the Governor proposes to roll back new spending for many initiatives, while funding caseload growth in existing programs.

The biggest blow to local health innovation is the Governor’s proposal to unwind the Coordinated Care Initiative’s funding for IHSS – a move that would increase the cost of IHSS for all counties, including Alameda. In addition, the Governor’s budget fails to increase SSI/SSP grant levels for aged, blind and disabled Californians living in poverty, and it ignores the urgent need to invest in supportive and health care services for seniors such as Older Californians Act programs, MSSP, and Medi-Cal provider rates for physicians, optional benefits and adult day health care.

Click here to read the impact on Alameda County Seniors and Services.

July 13, 2016 – On June 27, 2016 Governor Brown signed California’s Budget for fiscal year 2016-17. The final Budget reflects the Governor’s conservative forecast of the state’s still-improving economy and his concern about future budget cuts if voters fail to pass an extension of Prop 30 taxes.

However, this budget year made the importance of advocacy especially evident. Three organized advocacy efforts that have been persistent for the last few years won some if not all of the policy changes that they championed, including the repeal of the CalWORKS Maximum Family Grant, modest SSI/SSP grant increases, and significant policy and funding for housing services and affordable housing.

Still, while this budget makes a few modest increases to supportive and health care services for seniors, it ultimately ignores the growing number of seniors, their deepening poverty, and the urgent need to reverse the deep cuts made over the last eight years.

Click here for SSC’s report on how California’s 2016-17 Budget will impact seniors and senior services in Alameda County.

May 25, 2016 – Closing in on a final budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year, California’s Senate and Assembly on May 24th addressed critical remaining budget issues, many of which will effect California seniors. As is the process every year, budget items that both houses pass and are identical will become part of the final budget that the legislature presents to the Governor. Items that are passed by both houses but are not identical will go on to Conference Committee, where Assembly and Senate leadership will negotiate the differences between their proposals.

The items going to the Conference Committee for negotiation include:

SSI/SSP

Senate: Approved $43 million general fund that, when combined with the Governor’s more modest proposal, will provide a $10/month increase in grant levels for the state’s share of SSI/SSP. The Senate also approved $50 million general fund annually (for two years) for outreach to increase SSI participation by homeless persons with disabilities, who may be eligible for this or other disability benefit programs.

Assembly: Adopted the Governor’s proposal of a one-time 2.96% Cost Of Living Adjustment to the state’s share of SSI/SSP, which would increase the SSP portion of the grant from $156 a month to $160 a month starting in January 2017. The federal government is also expected to provide a cost of living increase, likely in the range of $12-15 a month.

HOUSING

Senate: Approved NO PLACE LIKE HOME Initiative, authorizing the Department of Housing and Community Development to issue revenue bonds, funded by the Mental Health Services Fund, in the amount of $2 billion:

• $1.8 billion to be awarded to counties through a competitive grant program to finance the acquisition, design, construction, or reconstruction of permanent supportive housing for individuals with mental illness who are chronically homeless.

• California Housing Finance Agency would allocate $200 million to all counties in an amount that is proportionate to the number of homeless persons in each county.

• A committee comprised of Administration officials, county officials, behavioral health directors and housing and mental health advocates, would sign off on HCD’s guidelines and advise the department throughout the process.

• $6.2 million from the state Mental Health Services Fund to be distributed to counties for technical assistance.

SENIOR NUTRITION PROGRAMS

Senate: Approved $2 million General Fund to augment existing senior nutrition program funding that is administered through Area Agencies on Aging, including congregate and home-delivered meals.

Assembly: Approved $5.4 million general fund to augment existing senior nutrition programs.

The items that will be included in the final budget presented to the Governor include:

LONG-TERM CARE OMBUDSMAN

Senate & Assembly: Approved a $1 million augmentation for LTC Ombudsman, to be funded from the state’s Health Citations Account.

IHSS

Senate & Assembly: Approved continued restoration of the 7 percent reduction, with the caveat that this funding restoration will be maintained as long as the MCO tax that was signed by the governor in February remains operational.

May 3, 2016 – Seniors from around California descended upon the Capitol last week in a strong show of support for increases to SSI/SSP payments. Dozens of seniors and stakeholders gave testimony at the Senate Budget Sub-Committee on Health and Human Services regarding the continuing impacts of cuts enacted in 2009 and encouraged lawmakers to use this year’s budget surplus to restore those cuts. Immediately following the hearing, the advocates met with Assemblymembers Tony Thurmond and Rob Bonta, and Senator Loni Hancock to share their personal stories and the critical role of SSI/SSP in their daily lives. Click here to read more.

April 11, 2016 – The voices and stories of seniors, community organizations, and health providers are needed April 28th in Sacramento at the Senate Budget Hearing on Health and Human Services. Join advocates from across the state as we together urge state senators to increase SSI/SSP levels above the federal poverty level and reinstate the Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA).

The hearing will be held in Room 4203, 9:30am to approximately Noon (if possible, stay until 3pm for legislative visits following the hearing). Advocates who attend will likely have an opportunity to provide very brief testimony on the impacts lowered SSI/SSP payments have had on their life or the lives of their clients.

Join us in Sacramento! Senior Services Coalition will coordinate and reimburse travel, prep you to testify at the hearing, and coordinate in-person meetings with our local legislators following the hearing. Please contact SSC’s State Policy Director, Jordan Lindsey, at Jordan@seniorservicescoalition.org.

Background:

The Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and the State Supplemental Payment (SSP) were designed to help aged, blind, and people with disabilities who have little or no income meet their basic needs. However, current grant levels are below the federal poverty level and far below the Elder Economic Security Standard Index, leaving SSI recipients struggling to survive.

The Governor’s January budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016/17 included a 2.96% Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) to the state’s share of SSI/SSP starting in January of 2017. The proposed increase, when combined with the anticipated federal COLA, would mean a maximum increase of $17 a month for an individual and $31 a month for a couple. While a step in the right direction, this proposed one-time increase does not reinstate the state’s annual COLA, nor does it meaningfully address the reality of basic living costs in California. The members of the Senior Services Coalition of Alameda County have identified SSI/SSP as a policy priority for 2016, and we join the efforts of the CA4SSI coalition in asking policy makers to increase grant levels above 100% federal poverty level and to restore the state’s annual COLA.

January 11, 2016 – On January 7, 2016, Governor Brown released his proposed budget for California’s fiscal year 2015-16. Once again the proposal is based on the Governor’s conservative forecast of the state’s “boom and bust” economy and reflects his characteristic fiscal austerity, but also shows signs of success in turning the state’s “structural deficit” into structural stability. The biggest indications of this change are a proposed 2.96% increase to the state portion of SSI/SSP, and the likelihood of resolution of the MCO tax battle around funding IHSS, the Coordinated Care Initiative and other key programs.

But despite stronger-than-expected revenue growth, the Governor’s proposal again ignores the urgent need to reverse the deep cuts made over the last eight years to supportive and health care services for seniors. No increases are proposed for Older Californians Act programs or for Medi-Cal provider rates for physicians, optional benefits or adult day health care.

Click here for SSC’s summary of key items in the Governor’s proposed budget that would directly impact seniors and senior services in Alameda County.

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