Schwarzenegger Reverses Position On In-home Care Cuts -- If Feds
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 27, 2004
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--Officials with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration announced Thursday that it would continue to support in-home care for Californians -- as long as the federal government provides funding for it.
The announcement signaled a reversal in the governor's position on the matter. In his budget submitted in January, Schwarzenegger called for cutting funding for the program which helps about 75,000 low-income seniors and people with certain disabilities to stay in their homes -- instead of nursing homes or other institutions -- by paying family members to provide personal care for them. The state had planned to save $116 million this year and $485 million in the next budget year by pulling the program, which is paid for through state funds.
But disability advocates and Democrats demanded the funding be restored.
Hundreds of people who would be effected by the proposed cuts showed up at the Capitol Thursday to protest the administration's position and to explain to the Senate budget subcommittee on health and human service programs how important the in-home care services are to them.
"Why should I be forced to have strangers care for me when my husband is able and willing?" asked Elsa Guzman, of San Bernardino, who has cerebral palsy. "It doesn't make sense."
Advocates pointed out that the in-home support services program cost less than one-fourth that of institutional or nursing home services.
"This is a half-baked and not well thought-out proposal," said Senator Wes Chesbro, chairman of the Senate budget committee. "Clearly, when the governor found that the Department of Finance was barking up the wrong tree, he was willing to move in a different direction."
The deal is not yet finalized, however. The governor's administration is seeking a federal waiver that would allow the in-home care services to be funded through Medicaid. Cheryl Stewart, an analyst with the Department of Finance, told the subcommittee that the program would be tossed if the federal government does not support the requested waiver.