October 2011 E-Newsletter

October 17, 2011

ENDING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each year about 6 million women in America are abused by their romantic partners. Here in Santa Clara County, prosecutors issued criminal domestic violence complaints at a rate of one every 3.5 hours last year.

Domestic violence can only exist when victims or family members remain silent. Most are reluctant to report it to police because they are embarrassed and afraid to expose private family matters.

To raise awareness of this dangerous societal problem, I have asked the state Assembly's Select Committee on Domestic Violence to convene a hearing in San Jose to examine the complexity of domestic violence in Santa Clara County and the strategies that can break the cycle of violence.

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, who chairs the committee, has granted my request for a locally based hearing. It is scheduled for Thursday, October 20, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the Ujirani Family Resource Center, 591 North King Road, San Jose.

I want victims of abuse to know that there is help and the community supports them.

AUTISM INSURANCE COVERAGE BECOMES LAW

Senate Bill 946 was signed into law by Gov. Brown, making private health insurers responsible for providing coverage of Autism Spectrum Disorder therapies and treatments.

The bill was introduced by Senate President Darrell Steinberg and I was its principal co-author. I also managed the bill on the Assembly floor. SB 946 is an amalgamation of two separate bills introduced earlier in the session by Sen. Steinberg and myself.

SB 946 can become a national standard for autism insurance. The bill sets a course of treatment for hundreds of thousands of kids, now and in the future, who will be able to get treatment for their condition.


It defines the scope of treatment and eliminates a loophole that stopped people with autism from getting insurers to cover treatment.

Currently, private health insurers contend they are only required to pay for coverage for Applied Behavioral Analysis services and other therapies from licensed providers. But the state has no licensing requirement for behavioral health treatment, a Catch-22 that effectively prevents people from accessing their coverage. The bill closes the loophole by allowing the state Department of Developmental Services and the Regional Centers approve providers.

SB 946 can save taxpayers money by stopping insurance companies from routinely denying coverage to people with autism and shoveling costs for applied behavioral analysis, speech therapy, occupational therapy and other essential medical services on our school districts and public agencies.

Autism is a medical condition, not an education problem.

DISABILITY HISTORY WEEK

The Silicon Valley Independent Living Center and other groups are hosting their Second Annual Disability History Week Celebration. It is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 26, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the center's headquarters, 2202 N. First St., San Jose.

Festivities include the screening of "Power of 504,'' a documentary of the 1977 sit-in by people with disabilities at a federal building in San Francisco that housed offices of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare."

I'll be one of the speakers at the celebration. Last year, I authored ACR 162, a resolution designating the second week of October as California Disability History Week.

There is a suggested donation of $5 at the door. But, no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Contributions will support the center's Youth United Leadership Program.

For more information, to RSVP by phone, or request an accommodation (at least 48 hours before the event), call Sara Moussavian at (408) 894-9041, ext. 223; or TTY: (866) 945-2205. Organizers ask that attendees register on or before Oct. 21.

ERASING GRAFFITI

The number of graffiti tags has exploded in San Jose and the city is fighting back.

A new toll free number – (866) 249-0543 – is available to report graffiti directly to the city's contracted vendor for graffiti abatement, Graffiti Protective Coatings. Reports can also be emailed to antigraffiti@sanjoseca.gov.

Graffiti has increased 38 percent during the past year, from 29,285 tags to 40,405, according to a city report released in August.