Democratic members of the California Senate Health Committee had what one of them called "a little awkward conversation" Wednesday with Democratic Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada over her bill to reinstate day care centers for adults with physical or mental disabilities, pleading with her to accept amendments.
Yamada refused to remove bill language to prohibit the state from allowing more for-profit firms to provide the care, characterizing her refusal as a philosophical objection to "making a profit off the public dollar."
And with that refusal, Yamada's measure, Assembly Bill 518, died without a motion or a vote. It was an unusual end for the measure, which had whizzed through the Assembly with nary a negative vote and bipartisan support.
Two years ago, the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated the day care program under the state's Medi-Cal program as one of the reductions made in "safety net" services to balance the state budget, turning aside complaints that its elimination would force beneficiaries into more expensive institutional care.
A class-action lawsuit was filed immediately challenging the elimination. Later that year, the suit was settled with an agreement to reinstate the program temporarily in several counties. That order ends next year. Yamada's bill would have reinstated "community-based adult services" as a Medi-Cal benefit in some counties. While for-profit providers that are already licensed would have been permitted to continue operating, the state would have been barred from authorizing any new ones.
That provision drew criticism from for-profit providers. Several of Yamada's fellow Democrats on the committee pleaded with her to remove that provision, including Sen. Lois Wolk, who, like Yamada, represents Yolo County. The committee members argued that for-profit day care operators, with proper regulation, could fill a void.
Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, described it as "a little awkward conversation." Other senators, including Alpine Republican Joel Anderson, asked Yamada to delay action on the bill so that a compromise could be sought. But she refused, and without a motion, it died.
PHOTO: Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, during session in the Assembly chambers in Sacramento on March 11, 2013.The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua