Revised Budget Endangers In-Home Care
The large budget cuts threaten hundreds-of-thousands that depend on the program for survival.
By Biko N. Poindexter-HodgeSentinel Intern
This economy is going down hill! History is repeating itself. We are going to be finding ourselves in the predicaments as we did during The Great Depression and World War II, except now we are finding ourselves in a futuristic depression here in the 21st Century. People are losing jobs, losing their houses, their heath benefits, etc.
On May 14, Governor Schwarzenegger announced his proposed May Revised Budget for the 2010/11 fiscal years. He attempted to close a $19 billion dollar budget deficit; the Governor also proposed a staggering cut of $70 million from the State's In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, which is more commonly known as In-Home Care. Unfortunately, these cuts will eliminate half of the program.
In 1973, the In-Home Care Program was created under Governor Regan, which was designed to ensure low-income seniors and people with disabilities to have quality care and a nice and safe home to live in. This program also allows the seniors to live at home and receive the care that they need and receive great financial benefits to California. Each year, the IHSS program services save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. The homecare costs on an average 4 to 5 times less than institutional care.
In-Home Care programs bring in billions of needed federal dollars through federal matching funds into the states economy. The Governor's proposed cuts occurred through federal matching funds into the states economy. The Governor's proposed cut through the program, which states it's going to protect much of the savings. We realized in homecare that we would be lost and approximately $1.4 billion in federal funding would be marked "return to sender" and sent back to Washington, DC.
There are 465,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities who rely on homecare, an estimated amount of 175,000 live in Los Angeles County who each year is cared by 133,000 county caregivers. Even though, the Los Angeles County has the largest number of care recipients, caregivers, and other California counties, the IHSS program cuts would impact the Los Angeles County the hardest.
The Los Angeles County fiscal for next year will have a $510 million deficit. This will cause them to make drastic cuts, which will only make matters worse. From a perspective of pure numbers, the Governor proposes cuts that will eliminate half of the In-Home Care program. Over 65,000 Los Angeles County In-Home Caregivers have lost their jobs and more than 85,000 local low-income seniors and people with disabilities lost all or part of their in-homecare services. The Los Angeles County's unemployment rate would skyrocket from 12.1% (May) to 13.5%. Therefore, tens of thousands of county caregivers lost their jobs. Thus, causing the county to face a dramatic and costly increase in the counties' hospitals and emergency rooms. As a result, seniors wouldn't have any place else to turn for care. Even more horrible news with the loss of these jobs in L.A. county, $50 million in state and local tax revenues would be lost. Also, an estimated 4,500 of non-homecare related jobs have lost dollars that were brought into the economy from caregiver spending.
The aspects of these cuts turns out that fragile life will be at risk. Therefore, the In-Home Supportive System Service program serves a low-income of seniors and people with disabilities. In order for you to qualify you must have less than $2,000 in personal property and a monthly income of $845 or less. The In-Home Care program will pay for rent, utilities, food and any other expenses. But in reality, there are only an estimated 20,000 nursing home beds available at any given time in California.
These cuts will have a big impact on people; conveyed through the stories of people who rely on this vital service. Los Angeles resident, Yolanda Neal, who cares for her elderly mother who suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), relies on Yolanda to assist her with breathing treatments, bathing, and meal preparations. In the words of Yolanda, "My mother believes that without the care I'm able to provide, she would have been dead years ago. I'm worried about the impact of cutting the In-Home Care program. Therefore, a 10.9 earthquake followed by a fire and then a tsunami is as similar as the death toll of our elderly and disabled."