Thurmond Bill Protecting Social Services Determinations Against Privatization Passes Legislature

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sacramento – AB 3224, authored by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), will protect Californians against private sector employees determining eligibility for Medi-Cal, CalFresh, and CalWORKs applicants. The bill passed out of the Legislature with bipartisan support and now heads to the Governor for consideration.

“This bill will ensure that Californians that need safety-net programs are protected,” Thurmond said. “Privatization of eligibility incentivizes companies to prioritize making profit at the expense of people that depend on assistance programs. AB 3224 guarantees that these positions are filled by our public servants who care about helping our neediest Californians.”

AB 3224 is a direct response to President Trump inviting states to request a waiver to a long-standing regulation that prevents the privatization of the workers who determine eligibility for government assistance programs.

When for-profit companies compete for contracts in 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.

“The merit or civil service status of personnel who determine whether or not someone is eligible for benefits and how much they receive is an essential feature of America’s safety net program, providing essential protections for people served by these programs and ensuring the integrity of government investments,” says Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the bill sponsor. “AB 3224 will protect this important standard for California’s low-income families at a time when federal proposals seek to weaken it.”

AB 3224 ensures that Medi-Cal, CalFresh, and CalWORKs employee determinations will remain unchanged, regardless of federal law.

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

Assemblymember Tony Thurmond represents the 15th Assembly District, comprised of the cities of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hercules, Kensington, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, Tara Hills, and a portion of Oakland.

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