Gov. Jerry Brown
Gov. Jerry Brown

A bill that would have permitted more elderly Medicaid beneficiaries in California to receive care and services in assisted living communities rather than in nursing homes has been vetoed by California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), he announced Saturday.

AB 2233 would have renewed the state’s Assisted Living Waiver and increased the number of slots in the program from 5,700 to more than 18,500 over time. The bill also called on the state Department of Health Care Services to try to expand the program beyond the 15 counties where it currently is available.

“This bill would have required a significant expansion of the Assisted Living Waiver program in Medi-Cal,” Brown wrote. “This program was expanded in this year’s budget. Any further changes should be considered in next year’s budget.”

The legislation, which had been introduced by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, a Democrat, unanimously had passed the state Assembly and Senate in August. It had been presented to Brown on Sept. 6.

It also had the support of two assisted living organizations in the state.

LeadingAge California had encouraged its members to press the governor to sign the bill. “The ALW program has proven invaluable for seniors and persons with disabilities who have secured a slot in this program, because it allows recipients to remain in their communities,” the organization said in a post on its website.

The California Assisted Living Association, a state partner of Argentum, had supported the legislation as well.

According to the 2017 Long-Term Services and Supports Scorecard, almost 11% of California’s 101,000 nursing home residents, or 11,000 people, have low-care needs that make assisted living a suitable option for them, the bill text stated.