Legislature Convenes Oversight and Informational Hearings on COVID-19, Healthcare Costs
This week, the California Legislature convened several oversight and informational hearings on the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as healthcare costs in California. Below, we briefly summarize these hearings.
COVID-19 Impacts on Foster Care
The Senate Human Services Committee convened an informational hearing on Monday to explore the COVID-19 impacts on the state’s foster care system. The hearing featured an overview of the current foster care system and associated challenges, as well as youth and caregiver and family needs and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Los Angeles and Kings counties, as well as other youth-related organizations provided testimonies during the hearing, highlighting the pandemic’s impact on California foster children and services.
Food Assistance During the COVID-19 Pandemic
On Tuesday, the Senate Human Services Committee also convened an informational hearing on food assistance efforts for vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearing explored how COVID-19 has impacted the need for nutrition assistance, recent state and federal funding for nutrition programs, efforts to meet the increased need for nutrition assistance during the pandemic, and changes in school meal programs during the pandemic. A broad array of representatives testified at the hearing, including those from local food banks, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), CDSS, Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), and the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA).
Workplace Health Safety Protections During COVID-19
The Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment on Tuesday convened an informational hearing entitled, “Safeguarding our Frontline Workers During COVID-19: The Need for Robust Workplace Health and Safety Protections.” The hearing provided an overview of workplace health and safety policies amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and featured representatives from the LAO, Cal/OSHA, and the State Labor Agency. Experiences from frontline employees from four industries – agriculture, food service, warehouses, and hospitality – were additionally highlighted during the hearing.
The hearing agenda is available here.
COVID-19 in California State Prisons
On Thursday, the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Senate Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response convened a joint oversight hearing on COVID-19 in California state prisons. Recall, the Legislature has convened previous hearings earlier this year on the unprecedented outbreaks within state prisons and correctional facilities. Legislators were provided an update on actions and efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) Division, including early releases to decrease state prison populations, COVID-19 precautions, utilization of personal protective equipment (PPE), and health services available to CDCR inmates. Notably, a significant portion of the hearing focused on CDCR transfers from state prisons to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers.
The hearing agenda is available here.
Health Care Industry Consolidation and Prices
The Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday convened an informational hearing on health care industry consolidation and impacts on California’s health care prices. Tuesday’s hearing featured an overview of health care industry consolidation from a faculty member of the University of Auckland, as well as an overview of California’s current regulatory landscape from representatives from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC). The hearing highlighted recent consolidation activities among health care delivery entities, changes in health care pricing, and impacts of consolidation on consumers.