LEA Transportation Language Amended in ‘SB 231 Reauthorization’ Bill (AB 2608, Bonilla)

New language included in proposed bill AB 2608, amended on June 28, essentially carves out LEA transportation services from the California Code of Regulation (CCR) section that has been cited when restricting billing for these services to wheelchair-bound eligible students only. This is great news for schools regarding the potential immediacy of implementing the ‘expansion’ of transportation billing under the LEA Billing Option program as outlined in AB 2608.

 

The Senate Health Committee’s analysis on the proposed bill highlighted reasons behind the need for a legislative solution to LEA transportation billing, stating: “state Medi-Cal regulations govern the scope of the medical transportation benefit generally (not specific to LEAs) and it is not clear that the state can expand the scope of the Medi-Cal medical transportation only for LEAs when LEAs are putting up the required federal matching funds.” Suggesting the language change adopted by Assemblymember Susan Bonilla in the most current revision of AB 2608 (p.6), the Senate Health Committee went on to say that such an amendment could, “provide DHCS with emergency regulation authority to make the regulatory change to the school transportation service regulatory provisions.”

Although Paradigm maintains that billing for expanded LEA transportation services is supported by the current CCR, this is a step in the right direction of allowing schools to bill all eligible transportation services under the federal definition once AB 2608 is passed. This interim solution could allow schools to begin receiving related federal reimbursements while the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) seeks a more permanent change to California’s regulations via a state plan amendment (SPA), a process that can take between 12 and 18 months.

The amended bill successfully passed the Senate Health Committee and is moving to the Committee on Appropriations. Legislative support has been strong in all committees that have heard the proposed bill, keeping in mind that it also carries the permanent reauthorization of SB 231 language (last reauthorized under AB 1540, 2009). Given this record, it would appear that chances of the bill passing are high; however, until the language has been finalized and put to a vote we cannot know the exact policy impact on schools’ ability to bill for full-scope LEA transportation services.

Paradigm will continue to track the progress of AB 2608 as it moves toward a final vote.