Friday, 31 March 2023

Bill to protect senior citizens passes key policy committee

SACRAMENTO—The Senate Health Committee passed a bill late Wednesday by Assemblywoman Patty Berg that brings California closer to complying with a landmark Supreme Court ruling that has failed to create significant change in this state for nearly eight years.

Assembly Bill 380, by Berg, D-Eureka, would increase funding for community-based programs that give senior citizens the kind of help they need to avoid institutionalization. By doing so, the bill addresses the primary goal of the landmark 1999 Olmstead Decision, in which justices ruled that adults cannot be placed in nursing homes against their will.

Since that ruling, California has made little headway toward adopting policies to make it easier for aging and disabled adults to live in their homes.

“I wish this law had been passed eight years ago,” said Berg. “It’s long overdue.”

At issue is the money the state spends on the Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP), which provides social and health case management services to thousands of frail, nursing home eligible older adults each year.

Assembly Bill 380 would increase funding for the program by linking the state’s contribution to the Consumer Price Index. The program has not received a significant rate increase in two decades, whereas nursing home rates have increased 96 percent during the same period.

“Do the math,” said Berg. “At the present time, we’re only spending $4,000 a year to help someone stay in their home, and it costs $55,000 to put them in a skilled nursing facility.”

Berg, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care, said her bill enacts one goal of her three-part Master Plan on Aging Baby Boomers. The Master Plan emphasizes policies that enable all Californians to live longer, healthier, and more dignified lives, and do so in their own homes and communities.

“We have to link this rate to inflation,” she said. “Otherwise, we fall farther behind every single year. Every Californian should be able to stay at home as long as they want, and MSSP makes that possible.”

The bill now goes to Senate Appropriations Committee.

Visit Berg's Web site at


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