Lawmakers To Consider Funding for Developmentally Disabled
California lawmakers are set to consider increasing funding for programs that help individuals with developmental disabilities during a health-focused special session called by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Miller, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/24).
There are about 4.5 million adults and children in California with disabilities -- such as autism, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injuries -- and such residents are high utilizers of the health care system (California Healthline, 7/21).
Advocates say that reimbursement rate freezes, inflation and minimum-wage hikes have reduced the number of not-for-profit agencies in the state that provide services for individuals with developmental disabilities ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/24).
In June, Brown signed a $167.6 billion state budget and announced two special legislative sessions to address additional funding concerns related to the budget, one of which focuses on health-related funding (California Healthline, 6/25).
Funding for Developmentally Disabled Considered in Special Session
While both Democrats and Republicans in the California Legislature agree that programs for individuals with developmental disabilities need more funding, they differ on whether the money should come from new or additional taxes on tobacco, health insurance plans or other products.
Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) said individuals with developmental disabilities "are the unseen and, based on the state budget, unwanted part of our society." Beall added, "We've become jaded by our interest-based politics that we have in Sacramento towards the needs of the developmentally disabled, I think, including everybody from the governor on down."
In addition, Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Temecula) said, "Unfortunately, [individuals with developmental disabilities] seem to be at the bottom of the food chain here in Sacramento."
Meanwhile, H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for the state Department of Finance, said the Brown administration is "certainly willing to entertain a discussion of rate increases [for developmental disability programs] that is outside of the general fund."
However, Christopher Rice, with the California Disability Services Association, said, "The history of special sessions is not that encouraging," adding, "We have counseled people that we need to keep encouraging legislators to find a way to make a deal" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.