Budget Cuts Threaten Services for California Alzheimer’s Patients
Programs that provide services for people living with Alzheimer's disease could lose funding under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposed budget cuts to close an estimated $24 billion state deficit, the Los Angeles Times reports.
California's Alzheimer's disease program runs 10 centers statewide that provide education, research, support and treatment services to patients and caregivers.
Although Schwarzenegger did not include the centers in his proposed cuts, the California Legislative Analyst's Office has suggested that such programs could be eliminated if the state fails to close the budget deficit.
The governor has proposed closing California's adult day health care centers and a program that funds Alzheimer's care at these centers. His budget plan also would eliminate nearly all home care services as well as programs that help families obtain elderly care.
Potential Impact of Cuts
Debra Cherry, vice president of the Alzheimer's Association's Southland branch, said the $385.8 million in estimated savings from cutting the programs would be offset in the coming years as more people send family members with Alzheimer's to state-funded nursing homes.
Lydia Missaelides, executive director of the California Association for Adult Day Services, added that the state's 100,000 nursing home beds would fall short of accommodating the increase in demand.
More than 588,000 California residents currently live with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The group estimates that this figure will nearly double by 2030, and triple among Hispanic and Asian populations.
About 80% of people with Alzheimer's are cared for at home, and 69% of California caregivers have annual household incomes of $40,000 or less, the association said (Zavis, Los Angeles Times, 6/5).
Health Cuts Spark Opposition
Meanwhile, a group of doctors, children's health advocates, parents and religious leaders held a press conference in San Diego yesterday to protest the governor's proposed cuts to health care programs.Under Schwarzenegger's plan, state spending on Medi-Cal would be cut substantially and Healthy Families would be eliminated.Â Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program, and Healthy Families is its Children's Health Insurance Program (Marelius, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/5). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.