SCLARC’s 2014 Legislative Agenda
Below are the key issues that South Central Los Angeles Regional Center’s Board of Directors and Leadership Team deem as priorities in need of legislative support in order to sustain the Regional Center System and improve service delivery:
1) Invest in Early Start Support for Children with Disabilities
California needs to invest in the future of its youngest children who are at risk for later diagnosis of a Developmental disability. Services provided through California’s Early Start program have proven to be successful in preventing and reducing the impact of Developmental disabilities. Failing to provide early intervention can result in the need to fund lifelong support services. California needs to return to providing necessary services to infants and toddlers with risk factors (i.e., low birth weight, prenatal drug exposure, a parent with a developmental disability, etc.) or milder developmental delays noted at age two, as this provides them the opportunity to reach their full developmental potential in early childhood.
2) Down Payment of System Sustainability
Regional Centers and vendored provider agencies need to be able to more adequately support the health and safety of our consumers into the mainstream life of the community. We are requesting a 5% annual increase in provider rates and regional center operations budgets as a down payment to ensure system stability while DDS arrives at a cost-based rates/budgeting system.
- Regional center Operations still maintains an unallocated reduction that was instituted in the early 1990s as well as unallocated reductions to OPS of $10.6 million from FY 2001-02 and $6.0 million from FY 2004-05. These unallocated reductions continue to be deducted from regional center operations budgets year after year, further frustrating the efforts of regional centers to capture federal funds.
- The bulk of the regional center Operations budget is calculated using the Core Staffing formula. The salaries in the Core Staffing formula, with few exceptions, have not been updated since 1991. This has resulted in the regional center Operations budget being underfunded by approximately $195 million.
- Continued erosion of caseload ratios will lead to reduced monitoring of individual services, which could undermine the health and safety of individuals, jeopardize the continued receipt of over $1 billion in HCBS waiver funds, and prevent regional centers from providing the current level of advocacy for school-age individuals.
2a) Rent Allocation
Simply put, SCLARC cannot afford to absorb the impact a rent freeze has created in our operations budget. The average rent escalators are 3%, but in some cases they can be as high as 5%. The greatest impact of this occurs when a regional center moves to a new and larger location. Usually, the cost of rent is higher in the new office space and that is in addition to the one-time moving costs incurred. Moreover, it is essential that SCLARC receive the one-time costs associated with our move and the expansion of our offices to a new location. Without this funding, our ability serve our consumers will be adversely effected.
3) Begin the Work of Creating a Cost Based Rate Model
As a result of a series of budget crises, California had abandoned the practice of setting rates based on reasonable assumptions about the actual cost of providing services. It is imperative that California begin the work of creating a cost based rate model for delivering services. This is consistent with the recommendation #6 of the Task Force on the Future of Developmental Centers, “Among the many issues to be considered are: 1) the sufficiency of community rates and the impact new State and federal laws and regulations may have; 2) whether current regulations can be streamlined, particularly affecting the licensing of facilities; and, 3) whether certain benefits received by DC residents as part of a DC closure process should be broadened to others in the community.”
4) Invest in Work for Adults with Developmental Disabilities
California needs to invest in the future of persons with Developmental disabilities by providing an effective path to employment. Inadequate funding of supported work and job development services has led to a decline in employment for Californians with Developmental disabilities. Employment is by far the best option to insure that Californians with Developmental disabilities are integrated into the mainstream life of the community. It provides the dignity and respect that comes with making a contribution the larger society. We request that the legislature increase supported employment services by 10%, as described in AB 1626 (Maienschein), to begin investing in employment outcomes for people with developmental disabilities. The goal of AB 1626 is to increase the hourly rate paid to providers of individualized and group-supported employment services to $34.24, and increase the fees paid to interim program providers to $400 and$800, respectively.
5) Remove Regional Center Prohibition Against Paying for Co-Pay and Deductibles
Providing timely behavioral supports to persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) has proven to be a cost effective investment in the future of persons with ASD. These services have allowed for integration into the mainstream life of the community, while reducing the long term cost of supports for persons with ASD. The requirement that private insurance companies fund behavioral supports to persons with Autism has been successful in reducing costs to the state for those services.
Unfortunately, the prohibition on payment of deductibles and restriction on payment of co-payments has resulted in families having to choose between dropping their insurance coverage or discontinuing essential services due to their inability to afford the cost of the deductible or co-pays. In some cases the cost to regional centers can be even more than the cost of paying these co-pays and deductibles. We urge the legislature to remove the language prohibiting the payment of deductibles attributed to behavioral services and remove the limitations on covering co-payments for behavioral supports. When children transitioned out of the Healthy Families Program into Medi-Cal many lost access to Applied Behavioral Analysis services, which further exacerbates the problem. We therefore recommend California covers medically necessary Behavioral Health Treatment for Medi-Cal beneficiaries.