California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Developmental Disability Program Funding Efforts Could Be Stalled

Efforts to identify new funding for developmental disability programs in California appear to have stalled and may not be considered until next year, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Background

Under the 1977 Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, California created 21 not-for-profit regional centers to coordinate services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

The regional centers are responsible for distributing payment to the agencies that provide care. However, some advocates say the rates paid to regional centers have been frozen about 20 years. In addition, more than $1 billion was cut from the state Department of Developmental Services during the Great Recession.

Slow Progress

According to the Daily News, the issue was discussed during two special legislative sessions this year.

In that time, several bills were introduced to generate funding through new taxes (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 10/21). For example ABX2-18, by Assembly member Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), would have levied a 5-cent tax on cocktails served in restaurants and bars in California to raise an estimated $200 million a year for community-based services for those with developmental disabilities (Gorn, California Healthline, 9/2).

However, such efforts have stalled.

A spokesperson for Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said that the special sessions are still open, noting that it is up to lawmakers to convene during it. However, there have been no formal statements made about when funding for developmental disability programs might be discussed further, the Daily News reports.

Cynthia Sewell, CEO of New Horizons, said that officials who work at such organizations plan to continue their efforts to investigate and identify a way to revamp their funding system.

Sewell noted that programs have developed a task force, with plans to:

  • Consider a ballot initiative for a 10% rate increase; and
  • Encourage more families to have a greater presence at local district legislative offices.

Sewell said they "hope that our issues regarding funding would be heard and funded in special sessions even though it has not been introduced at this time" (Los Angeles Daily News, 10/21).

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