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Network Member: Rebecca Hernandez, MSEd
As manager of Help Me Grow Orange County, Rebecca Hernandez has for years helped connect families to health professionals and support services when they have concerns about their children’s health and development. Now, she’s helping the many regional organizations serving these children to connect with each other, to improve and streamline the programs on which these families rely. Read more>>


Governor Signs Key Bills
  • Health Homes: AB 361 authorizes the Department of Health Care Services to apply for the health homes program under the Affordable Care Act which, among other provisions, would allow the Department to offer additional services, including care coordination, for people in Medi-Cal with chronic conditions.  
  • Regional Centers: AB 468 provides an optional program so that individuals served by Regional Centers may control the services they need, with support from family and professionals. AB 1232, SB 367 and SB555 all address quality assurance measures to ensure that Regional Center services are provided in a linguistically and culturally appropriate manner.
  • Autism Health Insurance Mandate: SB 126 will extend until Jan. 1, 2017, the current mandate requiring private health plans to cover Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy.

Why “Minimal Essential Coverage” Matters for Children with Special Health Care Needs
A recent IRS ruling on the issue of “minimal essential coverage” (MEC) is significant for families of children with special health care needs who will be insured under the Affordable Care Act. Whether an individual is determined to have minimal essential coverage can influence health plan subsidies, tax credits, and penalties for not having insurance. It has been unclear whether some Medicaid programs are MEC. This ruling provides guidance about some Medicaid waiver programs (such as the Katie Beckett Waiver and the Family Opportunity Act). According to this decision, the Medicaid waiver programs and the premium tax credits in most cases cannot be used together. The new ruling answers the question for certain situations, but others remain uncertain. Helpful explanations about this complex issue are available from the Georgetown Center on Children and Families and George Washington University.

Reducing DSH Payments to Hospitals
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued a final rule on reducing disproportionate-share (DSH) hospital payments for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. DSH payments help subsidize hospitals that provide high levels of uncompensated care. The reductions are related to implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which is designed to cover more patients under Medicaid, thus potentially reducing the need for DSH payments.  DSH funding is especially important for children’s hospitals and public hospitals to help defray the costs of caring for Medicaid patients with low reimbursement rates. The consequences of reducing these payments to the health care safety net remain uncertain. Read more and find a link to the ruling.


Help with ACA Enrollment
The Children’s Partnership and several other state agencies have launched the All In Campaign to educate members of the California school community about the Affordable Care Act and how to enroll in Covered California. The campaign website provides a toolkit and additional information.    

The California Medical Association also notes that it is now possible to search the Covered California website to find out whether a particular physician is contracted with any of the participating plans. See the necessary steps.

Instructional Videos from the National Center for Medical Home Implementation for Pediatric Practices
The National Center for Medical Home Implementation (NCMHI) has released a “how-to” video series called Fostering Partnership and Teamwork in the Pediatric Medical Home. Three new, free videos demonstrate how pediatric practices can implement team huddles, family advisory groups and care partnership support. Review the videos:  Creating EfficiencyBuilding a Stronger Pediatric Medical Home, and Enhancing Collaboration with Families. Learn more about medical homes in California at

Before You Choose, Assess the True Cost of Health Plans for CSHCN
A new article from Kaiser Health News serves as a reminder that families of individuals with serious medical issues need to carefully assess the full costs of health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, including deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket expenses. In the long run, a more expensive plan may be a smarter choice. Buying a more expensive insurance plan also may allow for tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies. Read more.

A Flu Season Primer
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just published a guide about flu for parents of children and adolescents with chronic health conditions. The guide discusses symptoms, treatment options, safety concerns, and vaccination recommendations. See also a report on physician and caregiver vaccination practices for children with neurodevelopmental conditions from the CDC. 


Ready, Set, Go: ACA Basics and Outreach & Education Opportunities Webcast
October 16, 2013
Noon - 1:30 p.m.

Sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, this webcast will provide information about the two major pathways to health care coverage for maternal and child populations, and offer strategies and resources for MCHB grantees to help educate families and others about the new insurance options. Join the webcast.

Section 504 Plans and Accommodations for Children/Youth with Special Health Care Needs
October 23, 2013 
Noon – 1 p.m.
Sponsored by Family Voices of California

Section 504 is a civil rights law that, among other provisions, protects children with disabilities against discrimination in education and housing. Register.


Assessing the Home Health Industry
A new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research examines the rapidly growing home health industry and concludes that little information is available on the characteristics and care delivery of home care agencies and individual providers of nonmedical home care. The study suggests that establishing licensure and basic safety standards for home care agencies is a reasonable public health policy goal. See the brief.

Let us know what's happening with your organization or family. E-mail Network Manager Janis Connallon at with your news or updates. Newsletter Editor: Eileen Walsh