Lawsuit Settlement Means Seniors and People with Disabilities Will Continue to Receive the Services They Need to Live at Home
SACRAMENTO – Seniors and people with disabilities are breathing a sigh of relief this week over an agreement between the state of California and home care stakeholders that will prevent devastating cuts to home care services from being enacted.
The In-Home Supportive Services program, also known as home care, allows over 400,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their homes and communities, rather than be forced into far more costly and restrictive institutional facilities.
The agreement resolves lawsuits brought by groups representing home care clients and caregivers that for the past 4 years have prevented the state from implementing cuts to the IHSS program. Through the agreement, the potential elimination of services for many recipients based on a “functional index score” along with the possible reduction in wages for caregivers making more than $9.50 an hour will no longer exist. In addition, the agreement eliminates the threat of an imminent 20 percent cut to IHSS hours and creates one pathway to restore all cuts in IHSS hours over the next two years.
“I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are real people like me who are on pins and needles wondering if we’ll be able to stay in our homes with the care we need,” said Tina James, a home care recipient from Los Angeles. “We’ll face some cuts now, and that will be tough for a while, but in the long run we know we are safe and that’s a real relief.”
Under the agreement, a threatened permanent cut of 20 percent cut to home care service hours will be taken off the table. Instead, it will be replaced in 2013 by a 4.4 percent cut on top of the 3.6 percent cut put in place in 2011. In the spring of 2014, 1 percent will be restored with all cuts possibly being rescinded as soon as the winter of 2015 pending federal approval of new funding that is estimated to bring significant federal revenue to California.
“This agreement does not stop all of the cuts, but it is a step in the right direction,” said Rosalina Flores, a provider from Riverside who cares for four senior citizens. “Our clients deserve dignity and we have more work to do to restore life-saving care.”
The agreement comes as home care is entering a new phase in California as a result of the Coordinated Care Initiative enacted last year after weeks of rallies and lobbying by home care clients and workers at the State Capitol building in Sacramento.
Under the initiative, state financing will be stabilized and improved and home care services will be integrated more completely into overall healthcare services.