Assembly panel rejects home care cuts

Caregivers gear up for campaign to strengthen home care

Caregivers who provide the critical services that enable more than 400,000 Californians to live safely in their own homes praised an Assembly panel’s decision to stand up for seniors and people with disabilities by rejecting a proposed $207 million cut to the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program.

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“Legislators did the right thing by standing with seniors, people with disabilities and their caregivers and rejecting these brutal IHSS cuts,” said Richard Jackson, a home care worker from Sacramento. “After listening to our voices and crunching the numbers, there’s no denying that home care is not only the most compassionate way to care for our loved ones, it’s far more cost effective than institutionalization.”

Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1 on Health and Human Services, chaired by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, rejected the governor’s proposal to cut services for more than 250,000 seniors and people with disabilities that count on home care to maintain their independence and dignity. The cut to “domestic and related services” would have eliminated help home care consumers receive with activities that are crucial to their health and well-being such as bathing, feeding, laundry, and shopping. With the loss of corresponding federal and county funds factored in, the proposal would have resulted in a devastating $630 million cut to home care.

People with disabilities and their caregivers represented by SEIU, UDW and CUHW testified that cuts proposed for IHSS year after year point to the need for a policy solutions to strengthen and stabilize the state’s home care system and provide better care for California’s aging population.

“It’s dismaying that home care services that support the health and dignity of 400,000 elderly Californians and people with disabilities are put on the chopping block year after year,” said Lisa Davidson, a homecare worker. “Our health care and home care costs won’t be sustainable as our population ages and grapples with chronic disease unless we coordinate and strengthen these systems to support better health outcomes and protect consumers’ choice to stay healthy at home.”

A coalition of caregivers and seniors recently launched the “Let’s Get Healthy at Home” campaign focused on the need to preserve the principle of consumer-directed care, provide access to training and professional development for providers, and to ensure that care is coordinated to better manage chronic conditions and preventive health needs. The result will be a more efficient system that minimizes nursing home stays, emergency room visits and hospitalization.

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