Cutbacks, rationing could affect ability of seniors to stay in their own homes

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revised budget threatens to eliminate critical health and human services programs in California. In fact, the Governor proposes extreme actions that would dismantle core safety net programs. Deep cuts and program eliminations would have serious and immediate consequences for seniors and for our local economy.

Among Governor’s proposals that will impact programs and funding for seniors state wide:

  • In-Home Supportive Services – The Governor proposes a $750 million cut to In Home Support Services (IHSS), resulting in a loss of federal dollars and a 43% cut to the program’s budget. Specific cuts would be developed with “stakeholder consultation” and implemented by July 1.
  • Supplemental Security Income – Proposal to cut $15/month from individual SSI  grant levels. SSI recipients already live below the federal poverty level, with individual grant levels at $845/month.   As grant levels fall, many become ineligible for SSI and are disenrolled from Medi-Cal, a situation that can lead to medical crisis.
  • Adult Day Health Care – The Governor proposes to eliminate Medi-Cal funded ADHC, which allows over 37,000 very frail elders and disabled adults to receive daytime health and supportive care. Adult Day Health Care programs employ 7,000 workers statewide.

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, says this reality hits just as the need for services to support an aging population is expanding at a faster rate than ever before.

“Even though many segments of state health care support would be cut, home health services are being cut disproportionately,” said Edwards-Tate. “This makes zero sense on so many levels when the need for these services is exploding.”

Edwards-Tate says the challenge transcends individual politics. “There is a basic issue we can all agree on: it is far cheaper to take care of people in home care and maintain their independence as long as possible as opposed to an acute care setting,” she notes. “With cutbacks, fewer seniors and families will have access to services and the result means more seniors being removed from their homes to institutional settings.”

“I urge the Governor to consider the impact on the state budget if seniors and the disabled lose their home care services due to funding cuts, ending up in institutional settings as a result. Home care IS the most cost-effective and humane solution to assisting our seniors and our disabled to remain in their own homes,” concluded Edwards-Tate.

The last three State budget cycles have eliminated cost-effective supports that helped hundreds of thousands of Californians avoid the nursing home and emergency room and live safely in the community.

In coming weeks, legislators will examine the Governor’s proposals and seek solutions to balance the state’s $20 billion deficit.  This is a window of opportunity for professionals and the public to engage in the budget process, contact legislators and ask them to protect seniors and preserve the health of our communities.

Today, there are 36 million adults age 65 and over in the United States; 3.5 million live in California. This population is expected to nearly double nationally and statewide over the next 30 years. With an increasing average life expectancy for Americans reaching over 75 years of age, the need for senior care will continue to escalate.

Leave a reply