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Attorney General Bonta, California Legislative Black Caucus Introduce Legislation to Reduce Black Maternal Mortality Through Implicit Bias Training

Monday, February 12, 2024

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa), and members of the California Legislative Black Caucus, today introduced AB 2319 aimed to reduce the alarming and disproportionate maternal mortality rate of Black women and other pregnant persons of color by ensuring successful implementation of Senate Bill 464 (SB 464) (Mitchell), the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act of 2019 (Act). Today’s legislation builds on the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation to ensure and better equip healthcare facilities to come into full compliance with the Act, the findings of which were announced in DOJ’s Report on Healthcare Facilities and the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act. After DOJ began their investigation, providers’ rate of compliance improved dramatically from below 17% to over 81%. Although many facilities met the requirements of the Act, there is still work to be done to ensure full compliance.

“It is a tragic reality that race continues to be a factor in maternal health and infant mortality rates not just in California, but across this country,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Together, we have made so much progress, and we must continue to address healthcare bias head-on. Today’s legislation does just that; it is designed to make transformational change in a system that has historically failed our mothers and babies, especially those of color. I want to thank the Legislative Black Caucus who worked tirelessly with us on this important legislation to create healthier outcomes for all Californians.”

“Black women in California face alarming disparities in maternal health outcomes. As a Black Mother and as Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, the fight to improve these outcomes is personal to me,” said Assemblywoman Lori D. Wilson (D–Suisun City). “I look forward to collaborating with our Attorney General Rob Bonta, Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber and other stakeholders to push this accountability measure across the finish line as we seek to make strides in improving Black maternal health outcomes throughout California.”

“The Black maternal morbidity and mortality rate cannot be explained by income or education levels alone. Data suggests what we know, what mothers have been brave enough to share, there is an embedded implicit bias in the maternal health care they receive. Providers ignore symptoms, ignore concerns to the horrible detriment of birthing women. So, sadly when uninformed care doesn’t result in death, it can still result in traumatic birthing experiences for both mother and child,” said Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), who is the newest Chair to the Assembly Health Committee. “California has been proactive in taking the steps to address this bias, but gaps in the process still exist. I am excited to partner with Assemblymember Wilson to address those shortcomings and ensure California is providing high quality healthcare for all women and birthing people so that everyone’s birthing experience concludes in a safe and healthy birth.”

“I stand in full support as a proud principal co-author of the collaborative efforts between the Attorney General and Assemblymember Wilson, Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, to fortify the implementation of SB 464, known as the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act,” said Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson). “This measure is fundamental in safeguarding the health and dignity of expectant mothers and their newborns. It is imperative that we redouble our efforts to uphold the principles of dignity and equity in pregnancy and childbirth. Together we can eradicate disparities in maternal care and promote equitable access to quality healthcare for all Californians.”

“California is failing its Black mothers. We have an obligation and moral duty to correct this grave injustice in California’s maternal healthcare. We owe it to our Black mothers to rectify the injustice causing alarming pregnancy-related deaths,” said Assemblymember Dr. Corey A. Jackson (D-Moreno Valley). “I am proud to support Attorney General Rob Bonta and Assemblymember Wilson for continuing this fight against bias and injustice in our healthcare settings. We must meet this moment and solve this issue immediately because lives are literally at stake.”

“The California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act was driven by concerns over racial disparities in health care, and the black maternal morbidity and mortality crisis,” said Sandra Poole, Policy Advocate at Western Center on Law & Poverty. “The Act required evidence-based implicit bias training in the healthcare system to address this major factor in racial disparities.  Western Center on Law and Poverty applauds this legislation which would require full compliance with the Act, authorize penalties against non-compliant healthcare facilities, and ensure that healthcare systems are held accountable for providing care that is accessible to all Californians without structural inequities that are determinants of health outcomes.”

“California is a national leader when it comes to reproductive freedom, and we pride ourselves on having the lowest maternal mortality rate of any state in the country—but we still have tremendous work to do to ensure that all Black women and pregnant people in our state have access to quality, equitable, and unbiased care,” said Shannon Olivieri Hovis, Director at Reproductive Freedom for All California. “As a cosponsor of the original legislation requiring implicit bias training for perinatal providers, Reproductive Freedom for All California is proud to join this bill coalition, led by Attorney General Bonta and authored by Assemblymember Wilson and Dr. Weber. We are grateful to AG Bonta for his commitment to ensuring reproductive freedom for all.”

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world — a burden disproportionately borne by communities of color, especially Black women. In California in particular, Black women make up 5% of those pregnant but account for 21% of the total pregnancy-related deaths. This disparity exists across all income levels. Evidence suggests one key cause of this disparity is the implicit bias of healthcare providers. A provider’s level of bias, whether conscious or unconscious, can influence their interactions with patients and their diagnoses and treatment of the patient’s pain, and can undermine patients’ trust and engagement in care.

In August 2021, as part of an inquiry into whether providers were complying with the law, DOJ’s Healthcare Rights and Access Section (HRA) issued letters to California facilities requesting data on their implicit bias training of employees. Of the 242 responding facilities, 201 had not completed or even begun training staff until after receiving DOJ’s letters. Only 41 had begun training their employees in compliance with SB 464, but not a single employee had been fully trained. However, by July 8, 2022, when the investigation concluded, an average of 81.44% of the perinatal care staff in the 242 facilities had completed training.

DOJ’s investigation made clear that setting requirements as part of SB 464 was only the first step to ensuring the training of maternal care providers. Additional steps need to be taken to ensure hospitals and facilities comply with those requirements.

To help reach full compliance and thus help reduce maternal mortality AB 2319 would:

  • Provide clarity on which facilities are mandated to administer anti-bias trainings and which employees need to be trained.
  • Establish firm deadlines by which trainings must be completed to better guide compliance.
  • Confer enforcement powers to the California Department of Public Health and the Attorney General, along with accountability measures.
  • Require compliance data to be posted online so the public is made aware of which facilities have provided anti-bias trainings and which have not.
  • Establish administrative penalties for noncompliant facilities.
  • Add inclusive language to account for nonbinary people and men of transgender experience who also carry children and give birth.

Western Center’s 2024 Legislative Agenda

Western Center’s 2024 Legislative Agenda

February 28, 2024
Following is a list of bills to help secure housing, healthcare, and a strong safety net for low-income Californians that will be sponsored or co-sponsored by Western Center on Law & Poverty during the 2024 legislative session.

Healthcare

AB 2297 (Friedman): Medical Debt Protection
This bill would modernize the Hospital Fair Pricing Act by prohibiting the use of home liens to collect unpaid medical bills from financially eligible patients, clarifying hospitals must review financial assistance eligibility at any time, clarifying Medi-Cal and Medicare cost sharing amounts can be deducted under financial assistance policies, defining charity care as free care, and other changes.
(Co-sponsored with Bet Tzedek)
AB 2297 Fact Sheet

AB 2319 (Wilson, Weber): Reducing Black Maternal Mortality through Implicit Bias Training
This bill would reduce the disproportionate maternal mortality rate of Black women and other pregnant persons of color by ensuring successful implementation of the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act of 2019 (SB 464 (Mitchell)) by clarifying which facilities are mandated to administer anti-bias trainings, confers enforcement powers to CDPH and the Attorney General, establishes administrative penalties for noncompliant facilities and requires compliance data to be posted online.
(Co-sponsored with Attorney General Rob Bonta, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Reproductive Freedom for All California, California Nurse-Midwives Association and the California Black Women’s Collective)
AB 2319 Fact Sheet

AB 2753 (Ortega): Rehabilitative and Habilitative Services: Durable Medical Equipment and Services
This bill would clarify that durable medical equipment is a covered essential health benefit in California-regulated health plans and policies when prescribed by a doctor for rehabilitative or habilitative purposes. The bill would also remove limitations such as annual caps on durable medical equipment coverage.
(Co-sponsored with National Health Law Program)
AB 2753 Fact Sheet

AB 2956 (Boerner): Protecting Medi-Cal Coverage for Californians
This bill would allow people to keep their Medi-Cal coverage for a full 12 months, regardless of changes in their income and would direct California to seek federal approval, when necessary, to make permanent the federal Medi-Cal flexibilities to reduce and remedy procedural terminations, simplify income verification requirements, increase automatic Medi-Cal renewals, and improve program outreach and customer service. (Co-sponsored with The Children’s Partnership and Latino Coalition for a Healthy California)
AB 2956 Fact Sheet

AB 3170 (Ortega): Drug Testing of Pregnant People
This bill will be amended to indicate that any drug or alcohol test or screen performed by the staff or contractor of a health care institution on a pregnant or perinatal person or newborn, or any information on drug or alcohol use in the pregnant or perinatal person or newborn’s medical records, shall not be admitted in any criminal or civil proceeding, including juvenile dependency proceedings, over the objection of the person who was tested.

SB 1289 (Roth): County Call Center Oversight and Reporting
This bill would remedy the barriers at county call centers by directing the promulgation of regulations that set basic standards for things like wait times and requiring DHCS to publish online call center data from all 58 counties.
(Co-sponsored with Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations)

Housing

AB 653 (Reyes): Increasing Voucher Utilization
This bill would create a competitive grant program for public housing authorities (PHAs) to fund housing navigation services, landlord incentives, and deposit resources to increase lease-up success rates for tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers. This bill would require PHAs to annually report their success rate and require those with a success rate below 60% to adopt certain policies to increase housing choice and work with HCD to analyze and improve their policies.
(Co-sponsored with Housing California, Corporation for Supportive Housing, United Ways of California, and the National Housing Law Project).

AB 846 (Bonta): Low-income housing Credit.
This bill would establish anti-price gouging protections for rent in properties funded by the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program.
(Co-sponsored with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and Public Advocates)

AB 2304 (Lee): Masking Limited Civil Unlawful Detainer Cases
This bill will close the gaps in the state eviction masking laws and ensure that all tenants are protected as originally intended.
(Co-sponsored with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation).

AB 2347 (Kalra): Protecting Tenant Due Process Rights
This bill would preserve the due process rights of tenants by preventing evictions when a tenant has not been properly served.
(Co-sponsored with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation).

ACA 10 (Haney): Housing is a Human Right
ACA 10 will recognize that every Californian has the fundamental human right to adequate housing on an equitable and non-discriminatory basis. Should the measure pass in the legislature, California voters will have the opportunity to vote to add this right to the state’s constitution, creating an obligation on the part of state and local governments to take meaningful action to fully realize the right.
(Co-sponsored with Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, End Poverty in California (EPIC), Housing Now, ACLU California Action, Abundant Housing LA, National Homelessness Law Center, and PowerCA Action)

Public Benefits and Access to Justice

AB 274 (Bryan): CalWORKs: CalFresh: Eligibility: Income Exclusions
This bill would exempt any grant, award, scholarship, loan, or fellowship benefit provided to any assistance unit member for educational purposes from consideration as income or resources for purposes of determining CalWORKs eligibility or grant amounts. The bill would also require the State Department of Social Services to exercise a federal option to exclude, for purposes of calculating a household’s income under CalFresh, any type of income that the department excludes when determining eligibility or benefits for CalWORKs.

AB 1815 (Weber): Discrimination: Hairstyles: Amateur Sports Organizations
This bill expands upon the CROWN act by prohibiting an amateur sports club or organization from discriminating against any person based on race, inclusive of traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles in the operation, conduct, or administration of a youth or amateur sports competition, training, camp, or club.
AB 1815 Fact Sheet

AB 3170 (Ortega): Drug Testing of Pregnant People
This bill will be amended to indicate that any drug or alcohol test or screen performed by the staff or contractor of a health care institution on a pregnant or perinatal person or newborn, or any information on drug or alcohol use in the pregnant or perinatal person or newborn’s medical records, shall not be admitted in any criminal or civil proceeding, including juvenile dependency proceedings, over the objection of the person who was tested.

SB 1107 (Durazo): Public Social Services: County Departments: Mail Programs
This bill would require a county human services agency that administers public benefits to develop and implement a program to ensure that, at a minimum, homeless residents of a county can pick up and receive government-related mail addressed to the resident at a place designated by the agency.

Contact our Sacramento Advocates: For more information about Western Center on Law & Poverty and our advocacy priorities, go to www.wclp.org.

Brandon Greene, Director of Policy Advocacy
[email protected]
916-282-5112

Health
Linda Nguy
[email protected]
916-282-5117

Sandra O. Poole
[email protected]
916-282-5141

Housing
Cynthia Castillo
[email protected]
916-282-5103

Tina Rosales
[email protected]
916-282-5118

Public Benefits and Access to Justice
Christopher Sanchez
[email protected]
916-282-5104

Rebecca Gonzales
[email protected]
916-282-5119

Analysis Of Governor Newsom’s 2024-2025 January Budget Proposal

Analysis Of Governor Newsom’s 2024-2025 January Budget Proposal

January 11, 2024

 

On January 10, Governor Newsom released his January proposal for the 2024-25 California state budget. The Governor’s $291 billion state spending plan estimates a $37.9 billion deficit, a smaller shortfall than the $68 billion the Legislative Analyst’s Office predicted last month but with ‘reasonable’ revenues according to the LAO. We appreciate that the proposal honors past commitments, including expansion of Medi-Cal to all income-eligible adults regardless of immigration status, and that there are no cuts to caseloads or grants to our most vulnerable families on CalWORKs and SSI. However, we are concerned with proposed cuts to CalWORKs supportive services, such as family stabilization programs, which fund programs that help families get back on their feet. Economic downturns hit low-income families the hardest and often result in a slower recovery period for these families; that makes it all the more urgent that we protect and strengthen California’s safety net.

 

Below are our initial reactions to the proposed budget by issue area.

 

HEALTH CARE

 

Continued and new health care investments

  • Maintains past budget actions on Health4All and Medi-Cal asset test elimination: The Governor’s proposal maintains previous year’s budget actions to implement full-scope Medi-Cal coverage expansion to all adults, regardless of immigration status. Effective January 2024, all Californians with incomes below 138% of FPL are eligible for Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status with no need to count assets.
  • Urge timely implementation of Share of Cost Reform and continuous eligibility for children: The 2022 budget deal to update Medi-Cal Share of Cost so that seniors and people with disabilities can afford to access needed Medi-Cal services and continuous Medi-Cal coverage for children ages zero to five is subject to contingencies, so we urge timely implementation of these critical programs.
  • Medi-Cal Caseload and Eligibility Redeterminations: The proposal assumes Medi-Cal caseload of 14.8 million in 2023-24, an increase of 583,000 individuals compared to the 2023 Budget Act due to overestimate of those who would no longer be eligible for Medi-Cal and resulting in increased costs of $2.3 billion ($499 million General Fund) in 2023-24 compared to the 2023 Budget Act.
  • Covered California: The proposal maintains key affordability measures for those in Covered California by including $82.5 million in 2023-24 and $165 million annually thereafter to support financial assistance for individuals purchasing coverage on Covered California. For the 2024 coverage year, these subsidies would result in elimination of deductibles and reduction in copayments and other health care cost sharing for more than 600,000 Californians.
  • Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative Wellness Coaches: The proposal includes $9.5 million ($4.1 million General Fund) in 2024-25 increasing annually to $78 million ($33.8 million General Fund) in 2027-28 to establish the wellness coach benefit to serve children and youth in Medi-Cal effective January 1, 2025.

 

Health measures/savings to close budget shortfalls

  • Safety Net Reserve Withdrawal: The proposal withdraws $900 million from the Safety Net Reserve (full amount) to maintain existing program benefits and services for the Medi-Cal and CalWORKs programs.
  • Managed Care Organization (MCO) Tax: The proposal seeks early Legislative action to request the federal government approve an amendment to increase the tax to achieve $20.9 billion in total funding to the state, an increase of $1.5 billion over three years compared to the approved MCO Tax last December.
  • Assisted Living Waiver and Home-and Community-Based Services Waiver Slot Increases: The proposal increases slots for the Assisted Living Waiver and the Home and Community-Based Alternatives Waiver, resulting in $10.8 million net General Fund savings in 2024-25.
  • Health care worker minimum wage ‘trigger’ language: Last year’s chaptered SB 525 (Durazo) would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $25 for nearly 500,000 health care workers, with the first pay increases rolling out in June, but the Administration is seeking early legislative action in January to add an annual “trigger” to make the minimum wage increases subject to General Fund revenue availability.
  • Delay in behavioral health and workforce initiatives, including:
    • Behavioral Health: Delays $140.4 million General Fund from 2024-25 to 2025-26 for the final round of Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program grants; shifts $265 million from the Mental Health Services Fund that was appropriated in the 2023 Budget Act to the General Fund in 2024-25 related to the Behavioral Health Bridge Housing, and delays $235 million General Fund from 2024-25 to 2025-26.
    • Workforce: Delays $140.1 million General Fund to 2025-26 for the nursing and social work initiatives; $189.4 million Mental Health Services Fund to 2025-26 for the social work initiative, addiction psychiatry fellowships, university and college grants for behavioral health professionals, expanding Master of Social Work slots, and the local psychiatry behavioral health program.
  • Defers resources for recently chaptered bills: The proposal defers the consideration of resource requests associated with recently chaptered legislation to the May Revision, including: AB 425 related to Medi-Cal pharmacogenomic testing; AB 1163 related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender disparities reduction; SB 311 related to Medicare Part A buy-in; and SB 496 related to biomarker testing.

 

HOUSING

California is still reeling from the housing and houselessness crisis, compounded with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, accessing and maintaining affordable housing for low-income Black and brown families is nearly impossible. The Governor’s January Budget Proposal proposes $1.2 billion in stark cuts across various critical housing programs. The proposed budget will halt progress at a time when Californians are grappling with alarming housing cost burdens, widespread housing instability, and an urgent need to solve homelessness.

The following reversions and cuts to housing programs are proposed:

  • Infill Infrastructure Grant Program: A reversion of $200 million General Fund
  • Multifamily Housing Program: A reversion of $250 million General Fund
  • Regional Early Action Planning Grants 2.0 (REAP 2.0): A reversion of $300 million General Fund
  • Foreclosure Intervention Housing Preservation Program: A reduction of $247.5 million General Fund over the next three years
  • CalHome Program: A reversion of $152.5 million General Fund
  • Veteran Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program: A reversion of $50 million General Fund
  • Housing Navigators: A reduction of $13.7 million General Fund ongoing for Housing Navigators.

 

These cuts essentially zero out funding for the state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Multifamily Housing Program, Infill Infrastructure Grant Program, Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program, and CalHome Programs for the coming year. It also reverts $900 million of funds appropriated to these programs in 2023. These cuts will result in 6,400 fewer affordable homes and the loss of $1.6 billion in federal housing resources, at a time when housing instability and homelessness have never been greater nor more on top of voters’ minds.

 

As it relates to homelessness, the proposal maintains the previous multiyear budget allocation to address the houselessness crisis, including continued funding for Project Homekey ($2.8 million) and expanding Community Care programs ($860 million). Additionally, the proposal maintains its past commitments to the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention program, but there will be a need to secure future dollars for the 2024-25 budget to avoid a state funding cliff to local governments. Disappointingly, the Governor continues to fund houselessness encampment sweeps at $750 million instead of focusing on California’s commitment to Housing First strategies, such as funding affordable housing.

 

The federal government has stepped in and allocated California billions of dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. These funds have been allocated to construct and preserve affordable housing for all and to rehabilitating affordable housing for people experiencing houselessness. While this is much needed funding, it is crucialto ensure that the funding is used to stabilize low-income communities, rather than promote displacement, which has been a growing trend amongst ‘trickle down housing’ advocates.

 

In addition, the challenges of this year’s budget clearly underscore the dire need to not only place AB 1657 (Wicks), the statewide affordable housing bond, on the November ballot to ensure stable funding for critical affordable housing programs over the following four years, but also to create a permanent source of robust ongoing state funding for affordable housing and homelessness programs.

 

PUBLIC BENEFITS AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE

 

CalWORKs: We appreciate that the proposal maintains grant levels for CalWORKs, which serves our poorest children, in households that are led by women of color, including 60% Latina and 17% Black, and includes intent to participate in the federal TANF pilot. However, we are concerned with potential cuts that may have significant impacts on families who continue to struggle to recover economically from the pandemic, including:

  • Family stabilization: reverts $55 million General Fund in 2023-24 and reduce $71 million General Fund beginning in 2024-25 and ongoing for family stabilization programs. These programs were created to strengthen CalWORKs families coming out of the Great Recession to ensure housing, mental health, safety, and family stability.
  • Employment Services Intensive Case Management: reduces $47 million General Fund beginning in 2024-25 and ongoing for county staff to provide one-on-one assistance to CalWORKs participants requiring exceptional support to overcome barriers to employment.
  • Subsidized employment: reverts $134.1 million General Fund in 2023-24 and reduces $134.1 million General Fund in 2024-25 and ongoing.

 

Child Welfare: Unfortunately, the proposed budget includes cuts in child welfare, including a $30 million cut in 2024-25 and ongoing to the Family Urgent Response System (FURS) which provides 24/7 emergency response for current or former foster youth, probation youth and their caregivers. There is also a $8.3 million cut to the Los Angeles County Child Welfare Services Public Health Nursing Program which ensures that foster youth receive necessary health screenings and expedited referrals. Lastly, there was a decrease of $195,000 in 2024-25 and $25.5 million in 2025-26 and ongoing to the housing supplement for foster youth in Supervised Independent Living Placements (SILPS) which helps stabilize older foster youth and helps to ensure that they will not become homeless.

 

Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP): The proposal includes the federal SSI 3.2% cost-of-living adjustment and maintains last year’s 9.2% SSP increase that was implemented on January 1, 2024, for a grant amount of $1,183 per month for individuals and $2,023 per month for couples. The individual grant is 93% of the Federal Poverty Level using the 2023 index.

California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC): The proposal does not make a change to the CalEITC, but only proposes $10 million for tax credit outreach, education and free tax preparation. This figure is down from $20 million last year.

 

Overall Safety-Net Programs: We are encouraged that the proposal continues to fund expansions of life saving safety-net programs to all Californians and stand with immigrant communities who continue to advocate for the inclusion into critical safety-net programs that allow them to age with dignity, provide access to food, and access to wage replacement program.

 

For questions, contact:

 

Settlement Finalized in Katie A. vs. Los Angeles County Mental Health Lawsuit

After more than 20 years of litigation, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, has given final approval to a settlement in the longstanding case Katie A. v. Los Angeles County. The Court’s action ends a federal class action lawsuit that, over time, led to significantly improved mental health services for children and young adults in foster care or who face imminent risk of placement in foster care. 

Filed in 2002, the suit alleged the county and state agencies failed to provide legally mandated health care services to youth in its custody. The lack of mental health services harmed foster youth by increasing the likelihood they would be removed from their homes.  Removals compound trauma for foster youth, making the lack of appropriate care even harder for children already struggling with mental illness.

“In the beginning of this lawsuit, we saw many youth have multiple moves due to behaviors that weren’t being addressed with treatment, and they were losing important connections to family and community,” said Antionette Dozier, one of Western Center’s lead attorneys on the case. 

While the County has instituted numerous new systems as a result of the lawsuit, perhaps most noteworthy is the now-standard practice for youth to receive intensive home-based mental health services that aim to keep youth with severe mental health needs in a homelike setting. Previously, they were more likely to have been  hospitalized or sent to a group home.

The County first settled the lawsuit in 2003 and agreed to provide mental health services, in addition to a long monitoring process. Plaintiffs filed a successful motion in 2009 to enforce the original settlement provisions.

Eventually, the plaintiffs reached separate settlement agreements with both the state and LA County in the case.

Co-counsel include: Disability Rights California, Bazelon Center for Mental Health, National Center for Youth Law, Public Counsel.

 

In response to street vendor lawsuit, City Council members acknowledge the need to bring L.A.’s street vending ordinance into legal compliance, but the proposal still falls short.

In response to street vendor lawsuit, City Council members acknowledge the need to bring L.A.’s street vending ordinance into legal compliance, but the proposal still falls short.

Los Angeles – On Friday, October 20, 2023, a motion was introduced in Los Angeles City Council calling for the City’s Sidewalk Vending Ordinance to be amended in order to comply with state law. Currently, the City’s Sidewalk Vending Ordinance excludes sidewalk vendors from 9 City areas representing some of the most popular pedestrian areas of the City, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The motion proposes City officials create new vending rules for Hollywood Boulevard and the Hollywood Bowl, to be crafted in consultation with the vending community.

The No Vending Zones in the City’s Sidewalk Vending Ordinance, along with several other restrictive regulations, are currently the subject of a lawsuit filed in December 2022 by sidewalk vendors and sidewalk vendor advocates. The judge overseeing this lawsuit made an early ruling indicating that he found little justification for Los Angeles’ regulations under state law. Trial is set for February 2024.

We share the general goals described in this motion –  to create a lawful and successful sidewalk vending program that balances legitimate safety considerations with economic inclusion. In fact, street vendors have long been proposing these exact ideas, and have advocated tirelessly for inclusive and transparent policies that would allow these small businesses to operate with dignity and safety. So while it should not have required our lawsuit to motivate these actions, we appreciate the support of the council members authoring this motion, as well as this express acknowledgement that the City must bring its ordinance into legal compliance.

But this motion does not actually propose to eliminate the unlawful No Vending Zones, and it risks repeating the process that resulted in the illegal restrictions in the first place. The motion does not immediately end the City’s unjust exclusion of vendors from entire neighborhoods, nor does it address the deep financial, emotional, and psychological harms experienced by vendors from years of draconian enforcement of these unlawful and exclusionary policies. The motion does not address the illegal citation practices of the Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA) over the past four years, or provide redress to vending businesses that have been harmed by StreetsLA’s retaliatory actions. The motion does not address the other regulations we challenge in our lawsuit, including the unnecessary and potentially illegal buffer zones around swap meets and schools. Ultimately, the motion may lead to an unnecessary patchwork of confusing policies, still not aligned with state law.

Vendors cannot afford to continue to rack up thousands of dollars in illegitimate fines while a motion works its way through multiple committees and politicized discussions. Half-measure steps in the right direction will not resolve the litigation. Therefore, our lawsuit will proceed until the foundational legal issues underlying our case are resolved. And we will vigorously oppose any effort to use this motion, and its protracted timeline,  as justification for delaying full resolution of our legal claims. We continue to welcome a conversation with the City that centers the voices and experiences of vendors, but we are not deterred from pursuing our strong legal claims and we are confident that we will prevail in court if necessary.

 

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Community Power Collective: Community Power Collective builds power with low-income workers and tenants through transformative organizing to win economic justice, community control of land and housing, and to propagate systems of cooperation in Boyle Heights and the greater LA region.

East LA Community Corporation: ELACC is a Boyle Heights-based community development corporation that uses an equitable development model to engage residents traditionally left out of decision-making processes. In addition to affordable housing, they provide financial capability services through their Community Wealth department, which supports sidewalk vendors with free tax preparation, financial coaching, Technical Assistance, and social loans. ELACC is co-founder of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign (LASVC) and has worked with micro-entrepreneurs for over a decade.

Inclusive Action for the City: Inclusive Action for the City (IAC) is a Community Development Financial Institution and nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles whose mission is to bring people together to build strong local economies that uplift low-income urban communities through advocacy and transformative economic development initiatives. IAC serves the community through policy advocacy, research, consulting services, business coaching, and a lending program, among other efforts. IAC is a co-founder of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign and has worked with street vendors and other small business owners for more than 10 years.

Public Counsel: Founded in 1970, Public Counsel is the nation’s largest provider of pro bono legal services, utilizing an innovative legal model to promote justice, hope, and opportunity in lower-income and communities of color in Los Angeles and across the nation. Through groundbreaking civil rights litigation, community building, advocacy, and policy change, as well as wide-ranging direct legal services that annually help thousands of people experiencing poverty, Public Counsel has fought to secure equal justice and opportunity for all for more than 50 years.

Western Center on Law & Poverty: Fights in courts, cities, counties, and in the Capitol to secure housing, health care, and a strong safety net for Californians with low incomes, through the lens of economic and racial justice. For more information, visit www.wclp.org.

Check’s in the mail — Riverside County residents encouraged to cash reimbursements from juvenile court fees settlement

Check’s in the mail — Riverside County residents encouraged to cash reimbursements from juvenile court fees settlement

What would you do with an extra couple hundred dollars? How about an extra thousand, or more?

These questions are a welcome reality for many Riverside County families that were recently reimbursed after being charged with illegal juvenile court fees, and they could be a life-altering reality for many more community members who are still eligible for refunds — but time is running out.

Any parent or guardian who paid juvenile detention fees to Riverside County from December 2016 to April 2020 is encouraged to check their mail for a refund check.

The reimbursements are the result of a June 2023 settlement in a class action lawsuit, Freeman v. County of Riverside, brought against the County by parents and guardians impacted by juvenile court fees. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs — representing a class of some 1,200 people — alleged the County violated state and federal law when it charged millions of dollars in fees to families with children in juvenile detention, but failed both to ensure that families were able to pay the fees and to inform families of their right to challenge the fees. The plaintiff families are represented by the National Center for Youth Law and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. 

“We sincerely hope that all community members are able to access the money that is owed back to them,” said Hong Le, senior attorney with the National Center for Youth Law. “We’ve already seen the positive impacts these repayments have had on some class members. Everyone who was harmed by these illegal practices deserves this refund and to be able to use this money however they choose.”

Many checks remain uncashed

Riverside County, per the class-action settlement, agreed to pay $540,307 in refunds to class members. This came after the County agreed to stop collecting $4.1 million in outstanding juvenile detention and administrative fees following the filing of Freeman v. County of Riverside in March 2020.

More than $150,000 in reimbursement funds remain uncollected following the distribution of checks this summer. That money could be life-changing for many eligible recipients who may be unaware of their eligibility, which is why the National Center for Youth Law and the Western Center on Law and Poverty are recommending that community members check old mail they have lying around and that they encourage friends and family members who may have paid juvenile court fees to do the same.

Community members who have already cashed their checks have used the funds, among other ways, to get out of debt, to help with household bills, and to improve their living situations.

“If you think that you should have received a check, please call 833-472-1997 to see if you are eligible. The Settlement Administrator can reissue a check if it didn’t reach you. The settlement is the only case in the country where families are receiving refunds for fees charged to them when they had a child in the juvenile system. We don’t want any family to miss out on getting this money,” said Rebecca Miller, senior litigator with Western Center on Law and Poverty.

Visit here for more information about the lawsuit and settlement. Information from the Settlement Administrator can be accessed here.

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The National Center for Youth Law centers youth through research, community collaboration, impact litigation, and policy advocacy that fundamentally transforms our nation’s approach to education, health, immigration, foster care, and youth justice. Our vision is a world in which every child thrives and has a full and fair opportunity to achieve the future they envision for themselves. For more information, visit www.youthlaw.org.

Western Center on Law and Poverty fights in courts, cities, counties, and in the Capitol to secure housing, health care, and a strong safety net for Californians with low incomes, through the lens of economic and racial justice. For more information, visit www.wclp.org.

Western Center on Law and Poverty and Impact Fund Secure Momentous Win for Over 40 Million SNAP Recipients

For Immediate Release

September 21, 2023

Contacts: Monika Lee, [email protected]

Ashley LaFranchi, [email protected] 

Western Center on Law and Poverty and Impact Fund Secure Momentous Win for 40 Million SNAP Recipients

California – Millions of Americans with low incomes will now receive their food benefits without delay during the first month of a potential federal government shutdown, thanks to the government’s response to a nationwide class action brought by Western Center on Law and Poverty and Impact Fund. The USDA has committed to changing its accounting practice to now guarantee that over 40 million people will receive their SNAP benefits in October, beginning this year and continuing every year moving forward – regardless of a government shutdown. 

Previously, in the face of a government shutdown, benefits were only guaranteed through September, the end of the federal government’s fiscal year. This meant that each year people were unsure if they would receive life saving and hunger averting benefits unless Congress passed a budget.

SNAP recipients, represented by Western Center on Law and Poverty and the Impact Fund, filed suit in federal court in San Francisco on September 12, 2023, against the heads of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The suit, Erdmann-Browning v. Vilsack, seeks to prevent any delays in providing SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits if the government shuts down. Congress has still not passed a series of appropriations bills or a continuing resolution funding the government ahead of the September 30th deadline.

On September 19, the parties filed papers in court stating that the USDA has changed its accounting practices so that it funds benefits in advance of the month the benefits are available to households. This means that the existing SNAP appropriation was already available to fund the October SNAP benefits. This change is consistent with the federal definition of when federal funds are legally obligated.

Congressional political games continue to harm millions of people. The latest numbers from the Census Bureau show a staggering jump in poverty since the end of federal, state, and local pandemic protections. The poverty rate increased to 12.4 percent in 2022 up from 7.8 percent in 2021, “the largest one-year jump on record.” A combination of inflation, stagnated wages, increasing housing costs, and the end of pandemic era cash supplements has exacerbated the challenges people with low incomes face to make ends meet.  

“Today, we celebrate this important victory for over 40 million Americans who will now rest easy knowing their October benefits are guaranteed for the first time ever. However, we keep finding ourselves in this precarious situation year over year,” said Jodie Berger, senior attorney at Western Center on Law and Poverty. “It is important that every advocate, non-profit, food bank, elected official, and agency join hands to underscore the importance of food access and nutrition for the health, well-being, and more of our communities.” 

“Millions of Americans, many of whom are seniors, children, and people with disabilities, will now have a better sense of where their next meal is coming from this October. Food insecurity, lack of access to food, and hunger are preventable, as we saw during the height of the pandemic when policymakers moved swiftly to protect people,” said Lindsay Nako, Director of Litigation and Training at the Impact Fund. “Elected officials must move with speed and urgency again, because hunger is already at crisis levels and food banks continue to be overwhelmed.” 

The work is not yet over. Stalemates in Congress and extended negotiations will continue to impact over 40 million SNAP recipients who represent about 10% of Americans, who face uncertainty this November and in subsequent months if Congress does not pass a series of appropriations bills or a continuing resolution.

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The Impact Fund uses impact litigation to support communities seeking justice and provides legal support for lawyers through grants, advocacy, and training events. For more information, visit www.impactfund.org

Western Center on Law & Poverty fights in courts, cities, counties, and in the Capitol to secure housing, health care, and a strong safety net for Californians with low incomes, through the lens of economic and racial justice. For more information, visit www.wclp.org.

Class Action Lawsuit: Over 40 Million Americans at Risk of Hunger if Federal Government Fails to Act

For Immediate Release

September 13, 2023

Contacts: Monika Lee, [email protected]

Teddy Basham-Witherington, [email protected]

Class Action Lawsuit: 42 Million Americans at Risk of Hunger if Federal Government Fails to Act

California – Western Center on Law and Poverty and Impact Fund have filed a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prevent a delay in providing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to over 40 million Americans. 

Congress must pass either appropriation bills or a “continuing resolution” to temporarily continue federal funding by September 30th, or else the federal government will shut down. 

The lawsuit asserts that the USDA should exercise available strategies to order the continuation of the SNAP benefits, while Congress works on passage of the funding bills. 

SNAP serves low-wage working families, low-income seniors, and people with disabilities living on fixed incomes, providing benefits only to those whose net income is below the federal poverty level. The most recent USDA demographic data shows that 65% percent of SNAP participant households live in families with children, with 11 percent of the families receiving need-based cash aid; 36% are in households with members who are seniors or are disabled; and 41% are in households with low-wage. 

Since the end of federal COVID pandemic SNAP emergency benefits, advocates are seeing millions of families hitting a hunger cliff, overwhelming food banks with increased demand. Millions of people are eating less or are going hungry, impacting their physical and mental health, education, and employment. 

One plaintiff has multiple sclerosis and can no longer work. She and her family use the majority of their income to stay in motels to avoid living on the streets. When money runs out, they live in their van, which requires saving additional funds to buy ice for her medication that needs to be kept cool. She is entirely reliant on CalFresh, Californian’s version of SNAP,  for her family’s food. Without CalFresh, she and her family will go hungry. 

The second plaintiff is a young woman who recently found housing after two years of homelessness. She searched for and found a job, but without a four-year degree, could not earn enough to afford housing. She works as a part-time preschool teacher, going to college to increase her earning capacity. She receives CalFresh, which is crucial to her being able to meet her food needs, as her basic monthly expenses leave slim funds for food. 

Both plaintiffs would go hungry if their benefits are suspended, and fear that food banks and meal centers will be overwhelmed as all CalFresh recipients will similarly be seeking those services. Their stories will become even more common without action by the USDA and other agencies. 

With the filing of this case, the courts can issue a temporary restraining order to require the defendants to continue operation of the SNAP program and get benefits released to the 42 million Americans in need. 

“It’s unconscionable that Congress would allow partisan fighting to get in the way of 42 million Americans putting food on their tables,” said Jodie Berger, senior attorney at Western Center on Law and Poverty. “The USDA must ensure SNAP recipients do not experience gaps in benefits regardless of any impending government shutdown. Children should not go to bed hungry, and people should not have to choose between paying rent and eating. The neediest people living in the richest country in the world deserve to have food on the table.” 

“Food justice spans economic, environmental, racial, and social justice. Every agency and Congress person must take responsibility and accountability for the 42 million lives in their hands,” said Lindsay Nako, Director of Litigation and Training at The Impact Fund. “This case is about each and every one of the individuals, families, seniors, and people with disabilities who rely on SNAP to survive.” 

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The Impact Fund uses impact litigation to support social justice for communities seeking justice and provides legal support for lawyers through grants, co-counsel and training events. For more information, visit https://www.impactfund.org/ 

Western Center on Law & Poverty fights in courts, cities, counties, and in the Capitol to secure housing, health care, and a strong safety net for Californians with low incomes, through the lens of economic and racial justice. For more information, visit www.wclp.org.

Trial Date Set For Street Vendors’ Lawsuit to End City of L.A.’s “Unlawful & Discriminatory” No-Vending Zones

TRIAL DATE SET FOR STREET VENDORS’ LAWSUIT TO END CITY OF L.A.’S “UNLAWFUL & DISCRIMINATORY” NO-VENDING ZONES

The vendors’ lawyers and three community empowerment organizations issued a statement after the trial-setting conference criticizing the City of LA’s leadership for its failure to take action.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, SEPTEMBER 5, 2023 – Today, L.A. Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant scheduled a trial date for the lawsuit brought by sidewalk vendor advocates and two sidewalk vending business owners against the City of Los Angeles. The suit challenges the City of Los Angeles’ unlawful restrictions on sidewalk vending, which plaintiffs allege violate a 2018 state law, SB 946, that legalized sidewalk vending statewide. In particular, the lawsuit addresses the City’s no-vending zones, which ban vending businesses from some of the most pedestrian-friendly parts of the City. The trial is set for February 15, 2024. 

Three community empowerment groups – Community Power Collective, East LA Community Corporation, and Inclusive Action for the City – which are organizational petitioners in the suit, and their public interest attorneys – Public Counsel and Western Center on Law & Poverty – issued a joint statement after today’s trial-setting conference:

“Every day that the City continues to enforce these unlawful vending restrictions, it contributes to the harm and persecution of sidewalk vendors. Because of these restrictions, vendors must choose between costly tickets and harassment from the Bureau of Street Services (Streets LA) investigators, or operating in isolated and unfamiliar areas where they struggle to make ends meet. Operating in isolated areas also makes vendors more vulnerable to acts of violence and crime. Sidewalk vendors are hard-working small business owners trying to earn an honest living and provide for their families, but these illegal no-vending zones and other restrictive regulations ostracize and bar them from equitable economic opportunity.

We are disappointed that the City has not stepped up to resolve this issue, and is instead allowing this case to go to trial. Many City leaders have been vocal in supporting street vendors, and some have even spoken out against these unlawful restrictions. Yet, in practice, the City continues enforcing draconian policies that discriminate against vendors in favor of brick-and-mortar businesses, which are allowed to set up sprawling outdoor dining operations on our public sidewalks in the exact areas where even a small vending cart is prohibited. As a result of this economic protectionism in favor of wealthier businesses, vendors are left alone to protect themselves and their fellow vendors. In response, vendors have organized themselves and built localized systems of power to challenge the City’s exclusionary policies and assert their legal right to vend within the City’s no-vending zones as active participants in these communities.

Vendor leaders have continuously offered clear and thoughtful solutions that promote equal economic opportunity in Los Angeles while addressing legitimate health and safety issues. The City has the power to end these unlawful and discriminatory policies, yet in the nine months since we filed this lawsuit, it has continued to enforce them, enabling the financial, physical, and psychological harm of its own residents. Instead of choosing to support economic development and working-class, immigrant communities, the City continues to engage in costly litigation. 

We are prepared to go to trial and are confident that the facts and law are on our side. Sidewalk vendors are part of the economic, social, and cultural fabric of Los Angeles, they have organized to protect themselves and each other against discriminatory policies, and we are proud to stand alongside them as they fight for dignity and respect under the law. Our movement will continue to support these efforts, whether that is in the streets, the halls of power, or in the courtroom.”

The lawsuit was filed in December 2022 by street vendors and the above coalition of community empowerment groups. In March 2023, Judge Chalfant rejected the City’s arguments to dismiss the case, allowing the suit to continue. Public Counsel, Western Center on Law & Poverty, and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP represent the petitioners.

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Public Counsel: Public Counsel is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to advancing civil rights and racial and economic justice, as well as to amplifying the power of our clients through comprehensive legal advocacy. Founded on and strengthened by a pro bono legal service model, our staff and volunteers seek justice through direct legal services, promote healthy and resilient communities through education and outreach, and support community-led efforts to transform unjust systems through litigation and policy advocacy in and beyond Los Angeles.

Arnold & Porter: With nearly 1,000 lawyers and 14 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia, Arnold & Porter’s lawyers practice in more than 40 practice groups across the litigation, regulatory and transactional spectrum to help clients with complex needs stay ahead of the challenges they face.

Community Power Collective: Community Power Collective builds power with low-income workers and tenants through transformative organizing to win economic justice, community control of land and housing, and to propagate systems of cooperation in Boyle Heights and the greater LA region.

East LA Community Corporation: ELACC is a Boyle Heights-based community development corporation that uses an equitable development model to engage residents traditionally left out of decision-making processes. In addition to affordable housing, they provide financial capability services through their Community Wealth department, which supports sidewalk vendors with free tax preparation, financial coaching, Technical Assistance, and social loans. ELACC is co-founder of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign (LASVC) and has worked with micro-entrepreneurs for over a decade.

Inclusive Action for the City: Inclusive Action for the City (IAC) is a Community Development Financial Institution and nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles whose mission is to bring people together to build strong local economies that uplift low-income urban communities through advocacy and transformative economic development initiatives. IAC serves the community through policy advocacy, research, consulting services, business coaching, and a lending program, among other efforts. IAC is a co-founder of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign and has worked with street vendors and other small business owners for more than 10 years.​

Western Center on Law & Poverty: Fights in courts, cities, counties, and in the Capitol to secure housing, health care, and a strong safety net for Californians with low incomes, through the lens of economic and racial justice. For more information, visit www.wclp.org.

Approximately 43,000 Former Santa Clara Valley Healthcare Patients to Receive Notice of Potential Eligibility for Charity Care or a Discount on Their Medical Bills

If you think you are eligible for possible billing corrections and refunds, contact Santa Clara Valley Healthcare at (408) 494-7850 for assistance. Patients may also contact the Health Consumer Alliance at (888) 804-3536 to receive free assistance about how to qualify for a refund.

Approximately 43,000 Former Santa Clara Valley Healthcare Patients to Receive Notice of Potential Eligibility for Charity Care or a Discount on Their Medical Bills

Santa Clara County, CA – Approximately 43,000 former patients of Santa Clara Valley Healthcare will soon receive notice of possible billing corrections and refunds. These corrective actions from the County of Santa Clara complement the significant enhancements that the County’s Board of Supervisors has made in recent years to the County’s hospital charity care and discount payment program, the Healthcare Access Program (HAP).

The increased patient outreach efforts are part of the settlement of a lawsuit that alleged the County did not adequately inform three former patients about its previous hospital charity care and discount payment policies after they incurred bills ranging from $8,000 to $35,000 between 2013 and 2017 and the bills were sent to collections. At the time of their hospitalization, one petitioner was uninsured, a single mother of two children, and a full-time student; another was uninsured and spoke primarily Spanish; and the third was unemployed and unhoused.

“Our goal in this lawsuit was to have better policies and processes in place at the hospital to inform patients of their right to charity care and to give patients who did not know about these programs in the past the chance to apply for discounts to their bills now,” said Fred Schwinn, Attorney with the Consumer Law Center, Inc.

The County’s patient notices include detailed information about how patients can qualify for free and discounted payments. The notices and posters advertising the program at the hospital are available in seven non-English languages. Written information about charity care and discount payments is given to patients at the time of service or mailed to patients within a few days after discharge. The County will also continue to assist patients with financial assistance applications and applications for government-sponsored health coverage such as Medi-Cal. Additionally, patients may apply for financial assistance at any time during the course of the collections process.

“Santa Clara Valley Healthcare prides itself on delivering quality healthcare for individuals and communities that face significant socioeconomic hurdles to receiving this basic benefit,” said Paul E. Lorenz, Chief Executive Officer for Santa Clara Valley Healthcare. “These newly implemented outreach efforts, combined with our current programs, multilingual approaches, and recent state-initiated efforts, will allow us to better serve those most in need.”

As part of settling this lawsuit, the County will provide an opportunity for patients whose bills were sent to collections between October 28, 2018, and December 31, 2021, to have their bills re-reviewed for full or partial discounts. Individuals who receive this notice will have 65 days to complete and return a form indicating their interest to apply. Individuals will then have an additional 150 days to complete their application by submitting documents to verify their information. Depending on when patients’ bills were sent to collections, they may qualify for different financial assistance programs. Patients may be eligible for refunds for amounts they overpaid and to have court judgments corrected.

“Medical debt, particularly hospital debt, burdens many Californians and forces them to forgo medically necessary care and other life necessities. We hope this lawsuit will give thousands of Santa Clara residents some financial relief,” said Helen Tran, Senior Attorney with the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “We are impressed the County has committed to the enormous task of reconsidering past bills that may have qualified for free care or some level of discount.”

In California, all licensed acute care hospitals must provide financial assistance to uninsured patients and patients who have high medical costs. The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors has long been committed to going above and beyond these requirements. In April 2020, the Board of Supervisors approved the creation of the Healthcare Access Program (HAP), which provides a full discount to eligible hospital patients whose yearly household income is at or below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), as well as options for significantly discounted payments for patients whose income is between 401% and 650% of the FPL, making it one of the most generous and innovative hospital charity care and discount payment programs in the United States. For more information about the HAP, please visit this webpage.

Patients who receive a notice about this settlement may contact Santa Clara Valley Healthcare at (408) 494-7850 for assistance. Patients may also contact the Health Consumer Alliance at (888) 804-3536 to receive free assistance about how to qualify for a refund. 

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Western Center on Law & Poverty fights in courts, cities, counties, and in the Capitol to secure housing, health care, and a strong safety net for Californians with low incomes, through the lens of economic and racial justice. For more information, visit www.wclp.org.

Located in downtown San Jose, California, Consumer Law Center, Inc., devotes its entire practice to protecting the rights of California consumers. CLC’s practice is exclusively limited to representing individuals in debt collection lawsuits and consumer class action cases against debt buyers and debt collectors. For more information, visit https://www.sjconsumerlaw.com/ and https://debt-defenders.com/.

About Santa Clara Valley Healthcare

Santa Clara Valley Healthcare (SCVH), California’s second-largest County-owned health and hospital system, is comprised of three acute care hospitals, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, O’Connor Hospital, and St. Louise Regional Hospital, along with a network of primary and specialty clinics. SCVH emphasizes quality care, research, teaching, innovation, and most importantly, a focus on coordinated, compassionate, and patient-centered care to every patient. Our mission is to provide high-quality, accessible healthcare and excellent service to everyone in Santa Clara County, regardless of their socioeconomic status or ability to pay.