California Victim Compensation Board
Open Meeting Minutes
November 17, 2022, Board Meeting
The California Victim Compensation Board (Board) convened its meeting in open session upon the call of the Chair, Gabriel Ravel, General Counsel of the Government Operations Agency, acting for, and in the absence of Amy Tong, Secretary of the Government Operations Agency, at 400 R Street, Room 330, Sacramento, California, on Thursday, November 17, 2022, at 10:01 a.m. Appearing via Zoom was Member Diana Becton, District Attorney, and Member Shawn Silva, Deputy State Controller and Chief Counsel, acting for and in the absence of, Betty T. Yee, Controller.
Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill, and Chief Counsel Kim Gauthier, attended in person at 400 R Street, Sacramento, California. Board Liaison, Andrea Burrell, was also present and recorded the meeting.
Item 1. Approval of the Minutes of the November 17, 2022, Board Meeting
Member Becton moved approval of the Minutes for the September 15, 2022, Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by Member Silva. By unanimous vote, the Board approved the minutes of the September 15, 2022, Board meeting.
Item 2. Public Comment
The Board opened the meeting for public comment and Ms. Burrell reminded everyone that, consistent with the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, items not on the agenda may not be discussed at this time but may be put on a future agenda. (Gov. Code, § 11125.7.)
There was no public comment.
Item 3. Executive Officer Statement
Executive Officer Gledhill updated the Board on several items:
To start, Ms. Gledhill reported that CalVCB is engaged in a project with the California Office of Data and Innovation (ODI). This partnership is designed to assist CalVCB in getting the most out of its $3 million, three-year outreach campaign.
ODI is undertaking a six-week sprint to:
- Identify if there is a significant gap between the number of victims eligible forcompensation and the number who apply to CalVCB;
- Identify why that gap exists, if it does, and where the eligible survivors are and how to best communicate with them to close that gap;
- Establish accurate, reliable methods for identifying and tracking the universe of eligible victims; and
- Understand victims’ experiences with CalVCB and whether they can be improved.
Ms. Gledhill stated CalVCB wants to make sure that the department is reaching all eligible crime victims and getting them to apply for compensation. What CalVCB will learn from this will help guide the work of a vendor the Program will contract with to create the outreach campaign.
Next, Ms. Gledhill noted the importance of improving coordination among state agencies that have contact with victims of crime.
Earlier this year, CalVCB joined with Cal OES and CDCR to launch the California Victim Services State Agency Coordination Council (Council).
More than a dozen different state agencies and departments play some significant role in assisting crime victims, and the idea is to bring everyone together to better understand what each does and how we can better work together to serve victims.
There have been three meetings held to date and flyers were produced listing all state services for victims, which will be posted and shared with all participating entities. At the most recent meeting on October 26, everyone agreed to continue this important effort in 2023.
Ms. Gledhill noted that the discussion held by the Council opened lines of communication that previously did not exist and provided a platform for those offering victim services to share resources, information and ideas. It also allowed everyone involved to consider and discuss the opportunities for working together, engaging in long-term planning, and better helping victims.
Most importantly, the Council’s first meetings revealed the great interest and need among state departments and agencies to coordinate their victim service efforts. It showed the enormous opportunity that exists for the state to improve support for, and outreach to, victims.
Future work will include identifying joint initiatives that should be undertaken, ways to maximize resources, how to adapt to the ever-changing victim landscape, and public policy changes to pursue. The Council may also continue to expand its communications about the many ways the state can assist victims.
Ms. Gledhill updated the Board about the revisions to its regulations governing PC 4900 claims in Sections 640 through 646, of Title 2, of the California Code of Regulations, which were adopted by the Board at the September meeting. The regulations are pending final approval by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), which is expected any day. The new regulations are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2023.
Ms. Gledhill concluded by acknowledging CalVCB’s staff for their hard work and generosity. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, CalVCB collected toiletry items to provide to victims visiting the Wellspring Women’s Center in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento. CalVCB collected more than 100 bags with all the basics, as well as large boxes of other necessities. Wellspring serves nearly 200 women and children each weekday.
Wellspring was very grateful for the donations, and CalVCB, in turn, expressed its gratitude for the vital support they provide victims.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Gledhill for the updates.
Item 4. Legislative Update
The Legislative Update was provided by Deputy Executive Officer of the External Affairs Division, Andrew LaMar.
Mr. LaMar informed the Board that, as of the last Board meeting, there were still a few important bills awaiting the Governor’s action.
However, since then, the Governor signed AB 160, a budget trailer bill which will increase compensation for crime victims and broaden their eligibility for CalVCB claims. This bill will not take effect until July 1, 2024, and then only if there is sufficient General Fund money to pay for its ongoing augmentations and actions, and if an appropriation is made to backfill the Restitution Fund to support those actions.
The Governor also signed SB 877 by Senator Eggman, which authorizes CalVCB to reimburse out-of-state mental health providers. This bill will take effect January 1, 2023.
Finally, the Governor vetoed SB 1468 by Senator Glazer. That bill would have deemed any decision by the Board to approve compensation for erroneously convicted offenders to be an official finding of factual innocence, and it would have provided additional non-monetary relief.
Mr. LaMar noted that the Legislature will be sworn in early December and will get started on its next two-year Legislative session, which will begin in January.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Mr. LaMar for the updates.
Item 5. Contract Update
The Contract Update was provided by Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill.
Ms. Gledhill presented for the Board’s approval the contract for its bill review service, which includes manual data entry of bills, bill review and adjudication and bill audit services. This contract went through a request for proposal process and was awarded to Intelligent Medical Solutions, Inc., in the amount of $3,026,250 and runs through June 2026.
Also, Ms. Gledhill wanted to make the Board aware of adjustments to two of the contracts in the informational section of the contract report. The last two items were placed on the report before they were finalized and the final amounts for both were lower than what was in the published contract report.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Gledhill for her updates.
Member Becton moved to approve the Executive Officer’s execution of item 1 of the Contract Report – the contract with Intelligent Medical Solutions, Inc. – in the amount of $3,026,250. The motion was seconded by Member Silva. By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.
Item 6. Proposed Board Meeting Dates for Calendar Year 2023
The Proposed Board Meeting Dates for Calendar Year 2023 was presented by Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill.
Ms. Gledhill asked the Board to approve the proposed meeting dates for the 2023 calendar year and noted that CalVCB is proposing to continue to meet on the third Thursday of every other month.
Member Silva moved to approve the proposed meeting dates for the next year. The motion was seconded by Member Becton. By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.
Item 7. Proposal to Approve Trauma Recovery Center Grant Awards
The Proposal to Approve Trauma Recovery Center Grant Awards was presented by Deputy Executive Officer of the External Affairs Division, Andrew LaMar.
Mr. LaMar stated the 2022-23 state budget provided $23 million in additional funding for Trauma Recovery Centers. That included $5 million to create a Regional Trauma Recovery Center Pilot Program.
A Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) is an organization that helps victims of violent crimes by providing trauma-informed services that include assertive outreach to underserved populations, comprehensive evidence-based mental health services, and coordinated care tailored to each victim’s needs.
CalVCB presently funds 18 TRCs through grants.
The Regional TRC Pilot Program aims to extend TRC services into rural and underserved areas by funding satellite offices to be run by existing TRCs that partner with community organizations in those areas. The budget directed that $2.5 million be used for two such offices in Northern California and $2.5 million for two in Central California.
Mr. LaMar reported that on September 14, 2022, CalVCB issued a Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) for the two grants. The application deadline was October 28.
CalVCB received only one grant application in total and it was for the Northern California region. That application was evaluated and received a passing score.
The Alameda County Family Justice Center proposes establishing satellite offices in Sonoma and Sacramento counties – neither of which currently has a TRC. They will be located in Santa Rosa and Sacramento.
Staff recommended awarding the Alameda County Family Justice Center a grant for $2.5 million to establish and run the satellite offices.
Because this proposal covers only the Northern California locations, CalVCB issued a new NOFA, asking for applications to serve the Central California locations. The deadline for submission of applications is December 6.
CalVCB will score the applications received and bring the Board a recommendation for awarding that regional grant at the next Board meeting on January 19.
Member Silva moved to adopt the Proposed Regional Trauma Recovery Center Grant Award. The motion was seconded by Member Becton. By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.
Item 8. Proposed Mental Health Updates
The Proposed Mental Health Updates was presented by Deputy Executive Officer of the Victim Compensation Program, Vincent Walker.
To start, Mr. Walker stated CalVCB would like to propose an increase in the Mental Health and Counseling Service Maximum Rates and, additionally, updates to the Mental Health Guidelines.
The CalVCB has the authority pursuant to Government Code section 13957.2 to establish maximum rates and service limitations for reimbursement of mental health and counseling services.
Reimbursement of mental health expenses by CalVCB is based on definitions, session limitations, documentation requirements, and other criteria set forth in the Mental Health and Counseling Service Maximum Rates and Service Limitations for Reimbursement, also known as the Mental Health Guidelines.
CalVCB’s mental health provider reimbursement rates have not changed since April 2011. At that time, the rate was reduced by 10% to address restitution fund challenges. Since then, there has been a steady uptick in cost pressures to providers, including inflation, and increased service demands due to the pandemic.
Mr. Walker discussed how CalVCB hosts regularly scheduled mental health forums with advocates and providers to share information, provide updates, and discuss current challenges faced by the provider community. CalVCB consistently receives comments regarding the current rates and the need for increases.
CalVCB’s goal with the proposed changes is to address these issues through partnering with the provider community, education, and streamlined processes. In doing so, CalVCB surveyed several sources to obtain current reimbursement rates for mental health treatment. Those sources included Medicare, insurance companies, and other states’ victim compensation programs such as Texas, New York, and New Jersey.
CalVCB requested to increase the provider reimbursement rates by 30%, which aligns with Medicare and many other insurance carrier reimbursement rates. These proposed rate increases are anticipated to assist CalVCB in the recruitment and retention of quality mental health providers willing to treat victims throughout the state.
The anticipated increase in reimbursement dollars paid out by CalVCB will be managed through VOCA Fund reimbursements. CalVCB receives compensation dollars as reimbursements to benefits paid. The VOCA compensation formula recently increased the reimbursement rate from 60% to 75%. CalVCB does not expect to ask for additional dollars to support this rate increase. Based on data collected and our current fiscal position, CalVCB proposes the approved rate increase take effect December 15, 2022.
Finally, included in this proposal are additional Updates to the Mental Health Guidelines. The guidelines outline requirements for outpatient mental health treatment for eligible CalVCB claimants. They also provide the details of what services are reimbursable and the process and procedures providers must follow to receive reimbursement. Mr. Walker noted:
- These requirements are consistent with CalVCB’s statutory responsibility to ensure bills submitted are crime related. This is currently accomplished by submission of either a Treatment Plan or a Treatment Plan Declaration Page.
- The last time these guidelines were updated and presented to the Board was in January 2017.
- CalVCB is the payor of last resort and must verify all other reimbursement sources have been exhausted and the treatment being provided is a result of a qualifying crime.
- Over the past year, CalVCB piloted administrative changes to help ensure other reimbursement sources were being properly utilized and the treatment provided was directly related to the crime.
The major changes proposed included: Updates to the Provider requirements; Updates to the forms used when submitting Treatment Plans and Additional Treatment Plans; and, Updates to the Billing and Reimbursement Requirements.
During the past year, CalVCB conducted monthly information and training forums to communicate the changes, answer questions, and assist with completion of the required documents. CalVCB heard from providers that the revised billing and reimbursement requirements were too restrictive and causing delays or denial of payments. CalVCB also heard from claimants about the difficulties of obtaining an Explanation of Benefits or denial letter from their insurance company. In many instances, these insurance companies do not provide this documentation as a practice, causing additional delays in eligibility determination by CalVCB.
Based on the comments received, discussions with providers, and feedback from CalVCB staff, CalVCB proposed the following changes:
- Update the requirement for session limitations prior to the submittal of the Treatment Plan or the Treatment Plan Declaration Page and instead request the completion of verification of crime relatedness with the first billing statement. CalVCB created the Mental Health Billing Intake Form for submission with the first bill. The bill intake form requires less information from the provider and will increase the speed at which payments are made.
- To assist with continuity of service and to ensure prompt payment of bills, mental health providers will be required to submit requests for payment within 90 days of providing services.
- The Mental Health Billing Intake Form will include a section that allows claimants to certify that no other reimbursement source is available, eliminating the need to wait for an Explanation of Benefits or a denial letter.
CalVCB shared these proposed changes with several victim witness advocates and groups representing the provider community and received positive feedback.
Making these updates to CalVCB’s Mental Health Guidelines allows CalVCB to address the concerns expressed by providers and applicants, while remaining in compliance with its statutory requirements. Mr. Walker informed the Board that, upon approval, an informational copy of these changes will be filed with the Secretary of State.
Andrea Canseco, MFT, representing Centro de Desarrollo Familiar (CDF), located in South Los Angeles offered public comment on the updated Mental Health Guidelines. She stated CDF has been providing mental health services using CalVCB funding for the past 40 years. She thanked the Board for having them at the meeting and allowing them to share their concerns. First, she wanted to address what has been going on over the past two years. What is CalVCB’s plan to address reimbursements victims and providers were denied due to the October 21 guideline change? Specifically, with regard to getting the forms in before the fourth session, which became nearly impossible when clients were participating in support groups and individual counseling. It gave them one week to get the papers in. They have over 100 clients that have missed out on reimbursements due to this pilot program that they were forced to participate in over the past year plus. The second thing she wanted to address in the proposal was the telehealth policy. The proposal reflects reverting back to pre-pandemic restrictions and restricting Telehealth to five sessions and then having to apply for more. According to the proposal, it states clinicians may be allowed reimbursement, leaving this up to the Board’s discretion if they will get paid for Telehealth services beyond the five. Ms. Canseco asked what the timeline will be on getting those forms submitted and approved and when they would be able to submit the forms.
Ms. Canseco continued her discussion regarding Telehealth and noted that the entire mental health industry has changed ,even major insurance carriers and hospital systems. Kaiser for example, was doing mostly all Telehealth for their clients and most private practices have gotten rid of their brick-and-mortar locations, switching everything to virtual. About 80% of the services provided by CDF are being offered via Telehealth. CDF provides services to mostly Spanish-speaking communities where having that access to care makes it so much easier for them. This is especially important in their community because 40 to 60% of CDF’s clients are vaccinated. South LA was one of the hardest hit regions in the state for COVD deaths, so they are trying to prevent anything like that from happening again. Now, the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) even authorizes supervision done via Telehealth. So going back to the old Telehealth rule would put them in an antiquated pre-pandemic situation. Clients who have chosen the Telehealth modality will be left out, because they are not meeting the client’s needs. She stated it harms clinicians who have gotten rid of their brick-and-mortar locations. According to the rule, claimants may not be allowed to more Telehealth due to clinical necessity or because they live in an area with no other resources. What does the Board consider as clinical necessity? They are in Los Angeles, there’s plenty of other resources, but it may not be best for the client and that’s what they are really looking out for.
Finally, she wanted to address the 90-day timeline. She stated that in theory it looks great; however, where they have had issues is when Victim Witness Programs apply for the client. She noted that they have about seven clients right now waiting for numbers beyond 90 days.
If they started billing now, how would that work? In Los Angeles County they are required to send Children’s Services cases to DCFS, and that takes the application process out of their hands, and they don’t know what timeframe DCFS is using to get the paperwork to CalVCB. They have lost funds because of the October rule change because of these delays. She wanted to know what the Board’s plan is to help clinicians and agencies in this type of situation. She acknowledged that they have attended the Mental Health Panels and that they have also written letters. They have reached out in every way possible. She concluded by saying she really hoped what she said would be taken into consideration. She thanked the Board for their time.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Canseco for her comments. He noted there may be some implementation issues and acknowledged there were issues with how this has been processed previously. He encouraged staff to look at these implementation issues and work with the providers and advocated in the community.
Ann Tran-Lien, the Managing Director of Legal Affairs with the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists also offered public comment. She indicated that her organization represents over 34,000 Mental Health Providers; many of whom are providers for CalVCB. She thanked the Board and staff for acknowledging the importance of mental health services for victims of crime here in California.
Ms. Tran-Lien stated they sent in a letter expressing concerns that they have been hearing from their member providers regarding the changes that were made to the guidelines in October of last year. They are happy to see that VCB is working to streamline the approval and billing process. Removing the barriers to reimbursement and increasing provider rates will allow for improved access to mental health care services for victims of crime. She agreed with Ms. Canseco that there are still some nuances to be resolved with implementation and administrative. She respectfully requested the Board consider their comments. She acknowledged they are also very supportive of the proposal to allow for services via Telehealth and noted it would continue to improve the access to much needed care. She encouraged the Program to not be as restrictive, or possibly be more lenient, when determining necessity for care via Telehealth. She said they have seen from the beginning of the pandemic and to the present how mental health care delivered via Telehealth has greatly increased and played a big role in helping improve access to care in rural and underserved populations in areas.
Finally, Ms. Tran-Lien asked if there could be FAQs published on CalVCB’s website that would allow for mental health providers to gain clarity on various issues that they face. Specifically, challenges in the billing process or denials of claims. She thanked the Board again.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Tran-Lien. He stated he thought it was a great idea to post FAQs on the website and directed staff to determine what sort of big issues there are with the billing process. Chair Ravel concluded by stating CalVCB is attempting to make it easier for the providers to submit bills and to get paid for these essential services provided to crime victims.
Member Becton moved to adopt the Proposed 30% increase to the Mental Health Reimbursement rates and to also adopt the proposed changes to the Mental Health Guidelines. The motion was seconded by Member Silva. By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.
Item 9. PC 4900 Claim No. 16-ECO-10, Michael Ray Hanline
This presentation was given by Chief Counsel, Kim Gauthier. Ms. Gauthier gave a brief summary of the Penal Code section 4900 claim filed by Michael Hanline.
On November 22, 2016, Michael Hanline filed an application as an erroneously convicted felon with the California Victim Compensation Board. Following a lengthy stay in the matter, the claim was supplemented on April 22, 2022. The application is based on a 1980 conviction for murder, which was vacated during state habeas proceedings in November of 2014.
There was no objection filed by the Office of the Attorney General regarding the merits of the claim itself. However, there was argument submitted by the Office of the Attorney General regarding the amount of compensation, which is discussed in the Proposed Decision. The Proposed Decision recommends compensation in the amount of $1,738,240, which represents $140 per day for 12,416 days Mr. Hanline was wrongfully imprisoned.
Ms. Gauthier noted that Mr. Hanline was represented today by Alexander Simpson of the California Innocence Project and the Office of the Attorney General was represented by Deputy Attorney General Seth McCutcheon.
Chairperson Ravel asked that counsel for Mr. Hanline address the Board first.
Alexander Simpson apologized for Mr. Hanline not being able to participate because he had had some unexpected health issues come up.
Mr. Simpson continued by stating that Mr. Hanline is happy with the Proposed Decision and asked the Board to adopt the Proposed Decision. He noted this has been a long time coming for Mr. Hanline and November is a very interesting month for him. Three days ago, Mr. Hanline turned 76 years old. On November 28, it will be 44 years since the murder of J.T. McGarry, which is the reason why Mr. Hanline was convicted and detained for 36 years. On November 24, it will be six years since his release. Mr. Simpson stated this award will not go to replace the amount of time that Mr. Hanline has wrongfully served wrongfully, but it will address some of the issues he previously discussed. For instance, Mr. Hanline’s declining health. He has a number of medical bills that need to be paid, and it will obviously go to his family members and assist in helping him in the future.
Mr. Simpson asked that the Board adopt the Proposed Decision in its entirety.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Mr. Simpson for his comments.
Chairperson Ravel then asked Mr. McCutcheon for his comments on the matter.
Mr. McCutcheon started by pointing out that he was appearing with Deputy Attorney General John Krauss who also appeared via Zoom.
Mr. McCutcheon stated their office was submitting the Proposed Decision.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Mr. McCutcheon for his appearance.
Chairperson Ravel stated that this is an issue of first impression for the Board and noted that in one respect you have a sentence that is being served concurrently and the question is how much to reduce the award based on that other sentence. He noted the way the Hearing Officer calculated the reduction is completely reasonable and that the Hearing Officer did an excellent job at researching and balancing the competing concerns. He went, however, to note that at the same time, it seems inherently speculative to determine how long somebody would have served and when they would have been released on parole, so he posited both to the attorneys for Mr. Hanline and the state, as well as to the Board members, whether that is the right length. He invited comments on this issue.
Mr. Simpson stated he agreed that it is an issue of first impression. He stated he spoke with Mr. Krauss about what this might mean in terms of the case. As he stated before, Mr. Hanline is 76 years old and he is not interested in an extended kind of process of litigation to find out the exact number, which would delay most if not all of these proceedings, and so they think the Proposed Decision is reasonable in that regard. He stated the calculation is something that they are comfortable with. He did not know how much farther they can go in terms of trying to calculate the exact number without an expert’s opinion about how the determinate sentencing laws would have worked in this situation. He stated they would submit on the calculation as determined by the Hearing Officer.
Mr. Krauss then added, from the State’s perspective, the state’s position in the briefing that was filed that the burden was on Mr. Hanline to show the extent of his injury. Mr. Krauss acknowledged this is a unique issue given the overlap of the sentencing guidelines, the ISL and DSL. The Office of the Attorney General recognized there is a certain amount of speculation that goes into it. He stated that the Hearing Officer’s resolution in this case of two years made sense to the AG’s office as a resolution given that it represents the midterm of the sentence for grand theft. Mr. Krauss believes the parole board under the rules of Title 15 section 2166, would have retroactively calculated Mr. Hanline’s parole date on the grand theft at the midterm, so that lines up with what the Hearing Officer recommended. For that reason, the AG’s office agreed this was a reasonable resolution.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Mr. Simpson and Mr. Krauss for their comments.
Member Becton stated she understood and shared Chairperson Ravel’s concerns, but she thought, based on the comments that were expressed, the recommendation was a reasonable solution for everyone involved.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Member Becton for her perspective.
Member Becton moved to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Proposed Decision in the Penal Code section 4900 matter of Michael Ray Hanline. The motion was seconded by Member Silva. The motion was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board and the Proposed Decision was adopted.
The Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Counsel at 10:43 a.m. pursuant to Government Code section 11126, subdivision (c)(3) to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-163 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board reconvened in Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126, subdivision (c)(3) at 10:45 a.m.
Member Silva moved to approve items 1 through 163 of the Victim Compensation Program. Member Becton seconded the motion. The motion was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board and the proposed decisions were adopted.
Member Becton moved adjournment of the November Board meeting. Member Silva seconded the motion. The motion was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Board and the meeting was adjourned at 10:45 a.m.
Next Board Meeting
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 19, 2023.