BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     SB 199  


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          Date of Hearing:   July 8, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair


          SB 199  
          (Hall) - As Amended June 2, 2015


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   
          Yes


          SUMMARY:  This bill would expand the scope of services available  
          under the IHSS program for a recipient who is blind, to include  
          assistance in reading and completing financial and other  
          documents, limited to two hours per month.










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          FISCAL EFFECT:


          1)One-time costs to the Department of Social Services (DSS) in  
            2015-16 of up to $1.7 million (GF/Federal Fund), and up to  
            $3.0 million on-going to fund additional authorized IHSS  
            provider hours for services to 9,710 IHSS recipients who are  
            blind, assuming all potential recipients are authorized for an  
            additional two hours per month.  These costs will be lower to  
            the extent that not all potential recipients are authorized  
            for this service or are authorized for less than two hours.



          2)Unknown but potentially significant one-time automation costs  
            (GF/Federal Fund) 



          3)Minor one-time costs to DHCS to submit the request for federal  
            approval of this service.



          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose. According to the author, "Reading assistance is  
            critical for consumers who need to know about notices that may  
            affect their ability to live independently, including  
            insurance coverage, prescription drug labels, housing  
            notifications or other time sensitive information that may  
            require action."  



            Although counties are currently required to provide  
            information and referrals to blind individuals, advocates  
            agree that the demand for reading assistance for IHSS  








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            recipients far exceeds the availability of volunteers at local  
            blind/visually impaired service centers.  Further, in most  
            cases, those organizations that can provide reading and  
            document completion services do so only on-site and often  
            don't travel to people's homes to provide such assistance.   
            Consequently, blind IHSS recipients who live far away from  
            services in the community or who are unable to travel are left  
            with few, if any, options for reading services. 





          2)Background. Existing law provides for the IHSS program,  
            administered by the Department of Social Services (DSS),  
            through which qualified aged, blind, or disabled individuals  
            receive supportive services enabling them to remain in their  
            own homes. Existing law defines the scope of supportive  
            services under the IHSS program to include heavy cleaning,  
            personal care services, accompaniment by a provider when  
            needed during necessary travel to health-related appointments  
            or to alternative resource sites, yard hazard abatement,  
            protective supervision, teaching and demonstration directed at  
            reducing the need for other supportive services, and  
            paramedical services which make it possible for the recipient  
            to establish and maintain an independent living arrangement. 



            Because reading services are not included among the covered  
            services, social workers are not able to allot hours for  
            reading, document completion or other related services even  
            when it is clear that blind recipients cannot complete those  
            activities without assistance and other sources of support are  
            not readily available. Instead, county welfare departments are  
            required to provide visually impaired applicants and  
            recipients with information on, and referral services to,  
            entities that provide reading services to visually impaired  
            persons.








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            According to DSS, as of May 2015, there were 9,824 blind IHSS  
            recipients (approximately 2% of the total IHSS caseload).  Of  
            those blind recipients, 114 had already been assessed for the  
            statutory maximum number of IHSS hours (283 hours per month),  
            leaving approximately 9,710 blind IHSS recipients potentially  
            eligible for the services in this bill. (These numbers do not  
            include individuals who are visually impaired but who do not  
            meet the statutory definition for blind.)


          3)Prior Legislation.


             a)   AB 1703 (Hall), 2014, was similar to this bill, but  
               broader in scope. It applied to individuals who are blind,  
               and to those who are visually impaired, or who have another  
               disability that significantly impairs an individual's  
               ability to read. It also did not contain any limit on the  
               number of hours that could be provided. It was held on the  
               Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file.


             b)   AB 238 (Beall), 2007, was nearly identical to AB 1703  
               (Hall).  It was vetoed by the Governor.


          


          Analysis Prepared by:Jennifer Swenson / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081











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