Thurmond Bill Protecting Critical Social Services Passes California Assembly

Monday, April 30, 2018

SACRAMENTO – AB 3224, authored by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D- Richmond), will protect Californians who depend on Medi-Cal, CalFresh, and CalWORKs from the privatization of those services at the county level. The bill passed out of the California Assembly with bipartisan support and now heads to the State Senate for consideration.

In December of 2017, President Trump issued guidance inviting states to request a waiver to a long-standing regulation that prevents the privatization of the workers who determine eligibility for federal assistance programs.  AB 3224 is a response to that change in federal law, ensuring that California’s service delivery system will remain unchanged.

“This bill seeks to ensure that individuals that need safety-net programs are maintained and delivered,” Thurmond said. “Privatizing the eligibility workforce creates a risk that the company running these programs could put out the profit motive ahead of what is best for the recipients. AB 3224 protects Californians who depend on safety-net programs and the government’s role of accountability."

When for-profit entities compete for contracts in broader social safety-net services, the products they develop and the information collected from their clients is deemed proprietary to the company. Any data collected is not subject to Public Records Act requests or other forms of public inquiry. This undermines the government’s role in monitoring compliance with civil rights enforcement and other program rules or goals.

Additionally, the job protections that come with merit employee systems are the best way to ensure that whistle blowing is an option for workers when the program is not working as it should. This is important because low-income people are often limited in their ability to report problems.

AB 3224 ensures that individuals receiving certain assistance programs will continue to receive those services and not fall victim to profiteering by private entities that stand to gain from the denial of benefits.

This bill is sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty and is supported by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

RELEASE CONTACT: Ayodeji Taylor (916) 319-2015