California’s protection & advocacy system

For legal assistance call 800-776-5746. For all other purposes call 916-504-5800 in Northern CA

or 213-213-8000 in Southern CA. TTY 800-719-5798.

 

2006 Legislative achievements

AB 1535 (Bass) Allocation of purchase of service dollars: PAI’s clients were concerned that regional center service expenditures were not equitably made across racial and ethnic categories.  Clients were also concerned that regional center notices of action were not provided in languages other than English.  With the assistance of Assembly member Bass’ office, PAI negotiated with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to receive purchase of services expenditure data across ethnic categories to study variance issues. DDS also agreed to translate notice of action and related forms in at least 10 different languages.

Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) due process reporting:  Following a State Personnel Board decision, the Department of Education concluded that it was required to change from a contract for a private hearing officer system to a contract with the state Office of Administrative Hearings.  PAI special education clients were concerned that this change could affect parent access to the special education administrative hearing process.  PAI, through budget advocacy, worked with assembly and senate budget staff to include in the budget bill key reporting requirements by OAH as a condition of receiving additional funds to carry out special education due process dispute resolution.  McGeorge School of Law previously held the contract to conduct due process hearings and used to provide to the public the key outcomes of hearings that will now be required of OAH.

Participation on the Olmstead Advisory Committee: PAI staff was appointed to the Olmstead Advisory Committee and has participated in every quarterly meeting and the meetings of the diversion workgroup, covering one of three priority areas.  Staff succeeded in focusing the meetings more directly on Olmstead issues; in getting a statement of principle and in formulating specific goals for the diversion workgroup. Through the vehicle of the Committee, staff educated members on issues and actions the State could take, independent of the federal government, to further Olmstead and models of diversion and transition operating in California and elsewhere.  Staff advocated for the State to apply for federal funding designed to further alternatives to institutions.  Staff helped formulate an “Olmstead filter” through which the Health and Human Services department is supposed to view legislation and policies. 

Limiting threats to state access laws:  Halting a proposed ballot initiative: Both state law, Civil Code 54 and 54.1 and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act ensure that public building and places of public accommodation are physically accessible to Californians with disabilities.  Business interests sought to remove some of the state law protections because they believed that some litigants (and their attorneys) were vexacious litigants.  PAI’s clients were concerned that the removal of these state protections would decrease the accessibility of public and private businesses and make it more difficult to enforce their access rights.  PAI worked with coalition partners and lobbied staff in state government, the attorney general’s office and members of the state legislature to fend off the threat of a proposed ballot initiative by business groups that attempted to institute ADA notification requirements and limit the rights of persons with disabilities to sue businesses and receive damages for noncompliance with state access laws.

Maintaining increases in current public benefits: Efforts to rescind cuts to SSI/SSP: Hundreds of thousands of Californians with disabilities rely upon the supplemental security income program (SSI) to provide a basic cash benefit for food, clothing and shelter.  Last year, the Governor’s budget proposed to delay the 2007 federal SSI/SSP COLA by an additional fifteen months, from April 2007 to July 2008.   Our clients with disabilities have not received a COLA increase for several years and it was becoming increasing difficult for them to meet their most basic needs without a cost-of-living adjustment.  Through budget advocacy efforts with coalition partners, staff worked to ensure that the governor rescinded the COLA delay proposed in the January budget proposal.  As a result of this advocacy, in April 2007 the maximum SSI/SSP grant will increase from $836 to $849 per month for individuals and from $1,472 to $1,491 per month for a couple.

Efforts to increase and maintain access to public government benefits and health programs:  Many persons with disabilities receive health care coverage and prescription drug coverage though the state Medi-Cal program.  PAI staff worked to maintain access to prescription medication when there was a flurry of legislation that would have implemented various mechanisms that would have limited availability to necessary prescription medications for individuals with disabilities who needed them.  PAI staff, with coalition with other partners, also aimed to ensure that persons with disabilities who were dually eligible continued to receive much needed prescriptions when there was significant problems with the implementation of Medicare Part D program. Of particular note was AB 813 continued emergency coverage for prescription drugs through the State’s Medi-Cal program from May 17, 2006 through March 31, 2007 for individuals who have both Medicaid and Medicare coverage (dual eligibles).  Otherwise many persons with disabilities would have been unable to obtain much needed drug benefits from his or her Medicare Drug Plan.

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