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Health Care, Seniors Targeted by Budget Cuts

Once again, the poorest, the frailest and the most medically needy are the targets of budget cuts proposed by the Governor in his May revised budget. The revised budget seeks to close a $15.2 billion state budget shortfall for FY 2009 and build a reserve of $2 billion. The revised plan includes:

  • Restrictions for in–home supportive services for seniors and people with disabilities and only the most severely impaired would receive aides for household tasks, although in–home medical assistance would continue. The cuts would affect about 84,000 people, or about one–fifth of program beneficiaries.

  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to a program that supplements salaries of in–home support services workers who care for the elderly.

  • Elimination of a federal cost–of–living increase for SSI/SSP that provides cash assistance to the elderly, blind and disabled.

  • $111 million in funding cuts to health care programs for documented immigrants. Low–income documented residents who have been in the U.S. for five years or less would be eligible for health care only in cases of emergency and pregnancy; if they needed nursing homes; and for breast and cervical cancer treatment.

  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to medical services for children, people with developmental disabilities, Alzheimer’s services, Adult Day Care and Adult Day Health Care and elimination of other services such as dental care, dialysis, AIDS services, etc.

In other words, the Governor once again hopes to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, medically needy, frail elders and the disabled. The Governor’s revised budget includes a substantial increase in funds to nursing home providers, while drastically cutting those services that enable consumers to remain in their homes or in the community. Refusing to propose any new revenue enhancements, i.e., new taxes or fees, the Governor plans to close the rest of the budget gap by selling $15 billion in bonds over three years based on anticipated state lottery revenue. Of course, this would have to be approved by the Legislature and by the voters in a statewide ballot measure.

Although the Assembly and the Senate Budget Committees have rejected a number of the cuts in health care services proposed by the Governor, this is only the first round. The Governor and your state representatives need to hear your voice if you expect to retain the few services we do have for long term care consumers and other medically needy Californians. See CANHR’s web site for more information on the proposed Health and Human Services cuts.