senior holding hand of healthcare worker

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) may veto a bill passed by the California state Legislature that would make permanent flexibilities for Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.

The bill allows the use of telehealth to conduct initial assessments and enrollment of new PACE participants. Peter Hansel, president of the California PACE Association, told McKnight’s Home Care that could be a sticking point with Newsome because it would require federal approval.

Peter Hansel

“It’s a fairly narrow flexibility dealing with telehealth and it is something that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services would have to sign off on,” he said. 

If Newsom fails to sign the bill into law, it would be the second blow to CalPACE in the past month. Another bill that would have required California to include literature about PACE with information about other managed care plans to dual eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries stalled in the legislature last month.

California blazed the trail for PACE. The program, which provides comprehensive medical and social programs for frail adults eligible for skilled nursing, started in California 50 years ago. With 13,000 clients and 21 PACE programs, California is the largest PACE participant in the nation.

Maria Zamora, CEO of  Oakland-based Center for Elder Independence, told McKnights Home Care Daily passage of the California bill is crucial because it could pave the way for Congress to pass the PACE Plus Act, which would help expand the PACE program nationally.

Maria Zamora

“The eyes of the nation are on California,” Samora said. “Fifty years ago incredibly innovative pioneers created this model and what we are trying to say is let’s continue that spirit of innovation.”

Newsom has until October 10 to sign the bill. Hansel said the legislation is now awaiting his review.