NEWS: Workers Declare, “Home Care Cuts Are Off the Table!”

Home care providers and care recipients rally to support reform bill SB 1503, a smarter alternative to cuts

SEIU, UDW, CUHW
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 15, 2012
Contact: Michael Cox (916) 799-6784

SACRAMENTO, CA – The day after Governor Brown released his May budget revision, home care providers and care recipients rallied at the State Capitol to declare that home care cuts are off the table in the coming budget year.  The effort was part of the “Let’s Get Healthy at Home” campaign to advance a smarter, more compassionate alternative to the $225 million in budget cuts proposed for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), SB 1503.

“Home care providers and care recipients have been fighting to stabilize and strengthen the home care that keeps seniors and people with disabilities healthy and independent,” said Loretta Jackson, a home care provider from Sacramento.  “But we can’t build a stronger system on top of a crumbling foundation, and that’s why we demand that lawmakers reject every penny in additional cuts to IHSS.”

IHSS enables more than 400,000 low-income seniors and disabled Californians to live safely and independently at home at a fraction of the cost of nursing home placement.  Yet the cost effective program has been proposed for deep cuts year after year.

This year is no exception.  The governor’s budget proposal would reduce by 7% the hours of assistance each home care recipient receives.  For those who live with a relative or roommate, it would slash many services altogether, even if the person they share housing with is incapable or unwilling to help them with basic needs like laundry, cooking, and grocery shopping.

These proposed cuts would put vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities in danger.  What’s more, they represent a “pound-foolish” approach to balancing the budget because the cuts would be compounded with the additional loss of more than $200 million in federal matching funds and more than $100 million in county dollars.

That’s why home care workers have joined seniors, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, and Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg to advance a smarter alternative, reform bill SB 1503.

Instead of cutting the home care services vulnerable Californians need now, SB 1503 creates savings in this year’s budget and achieves even better long-term savings by transforming IHSS.

SB 1503 would move to a system of coordinated care in which the health care system and the home care system work together, with incentives to improve the health of seniors and people with disabilities while maintaining consumer choice to live at home whenever possible.

Under this model, home care providers would be a part of the care team responsible for improving the consumers’ health.   This plan will achieve real savings in the coming years when home care providers receive the training needed to observe and report symptoms of chronic conditions, greatly reducing the incidence of more expensive nursing home placements and hospitalizations.

What’s more, reinvesting savings generated by the reforms will enable California to strengthen home care to accommodate the estimated 800,000 Californians who will need IHSS as California’s population ages over the next decade.   But this transformation won’t be successful if IHSS is cut any further.

“Seniors are here with a clear message for our leaders: more home care cuts are absolutely not an option,” said Bruce G. Johnson, a home care recipient from Stanislaus County.  “It is unconscionable to even consider cutting the lifeline our seniors and people with disabilities are relying on when SB 1503 can save more money and improve our health!”

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