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PRESS RELEASE: Senate Health Chair Joins Seniors and Disability Rights Advocates in Announcing Bold Step to address the State’s Long-Term Care Crisis

Coalition-backed legislation will create roadmap to long-term care benefit for middle-class Californians

Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator representing the Sacramento area, and Assemblymember Ash Kalra, representing San Jose, today announced new legislation that is the first step toward building a new program to finance long-term services and supports (LTSS) for California’s working and middle-class families.

California currently has almost 8 million persons who are either older adults or persons with mobility, sensory, intellectual, developmental, and/or mental health disabilities, many of whom struggle to afford the ongoing services and supports they need to live with dignity and independence.

As a result, millions of California families provide unpaid caregiving or mortgage their futures to provide care and support to their loved ones. Many must “spend down” their assets to qualify for Medi-Cal LTSS programs, putting additional pressure on an overburdened system and the state budget.

“As our family members and neighbors age, many families will need help caring for them at home or in a long-term care facility. But many families are unable to pay for needed care,” said Dr. Richard Pan, state senator representing the Sacramento region. “This bill will prepare California for an aging population by examining how middle class and working families can finance long term services and supports for their aging and disable loved ones.”

SB 512 creates the framework for a new program that would provide Californians with a managed cash benefit to spend on long-term services and supports. Also referred to as long- term care (LTC), LTSS consists of a broad range of day-to-day tasks that include personal care (bathing, dressing, toileting); complex care (medications, wound care); help with housekeeping, transportation, paying bills, and meals; and other ongoing social services. LTSS may be provided in the home, in assisted living and other supportive housing settings, in nursing facilities, and in integrated settings that provide both health care and supportive services.

“This is an important first step in addressing this critical need for a growing number of hardworking Californians,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “We look forward to working with the Governor and dedicated stakeholders to design a program that meets the needs of our most vulnerable communities.”

SB 512 was developed in concert with the California Aging and Disability Alliance (CADA), which includes a broad cross section of stakeholders, including statewide representatives of 20 aging, consumers, disability, labor, and provider groups.

“Our current system demands from people who have worked hard their whole lives to get rid of all their assets and income just to get the services they need,” said Doug Moore, Executive Director, UDW/AFSCME Local 3930. UDW represents more than 110,000 home care workers in California, who are paid poverty-level wages for the life-saving care they provide. “Many other families are overwhelmed trying to make a living while caring for their loved ones – in fact, caregiving is a significant driver of poverty in older women. This new program will bring relief to California’s middle-class families.”

The new benefit is designed to be available to families who earn too much to qualify for Medi- Cal and that program’s LTSS benefits, but who earn too little to afford long-term care insurance or to pay out of pocket for LTSS services.

“The costs of LTSS are beyond the reach of too many California families struggling to care for a loved one,” said Nancy McPherson, State Director for AARP California. “We need to expand access to these services in a way that is financially responsible for California and that empowers people who are aging or living with disabilities.”

CADA Member Organizations include:

• AARP California
• Alzheimer’s Association
• California Alliance for Retired Americans
• California Association for Adult Day
• California Commission on Aging
• California Domestic Workers Coalition
• California Foundation for Independent
Living Centers
• California Long-Term Care Ombudsman
• Caring Across Generations
• Congress of California Seniors
• Disability Rights California
• Disability Rights Education and Defense
• Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers
• Justice in Aging
• LeadingAge California
• SEIU Local 2015
• State Independent Living Council
• The Arc of California
• UDW/AFSCME Local 3930