Judge Halts Cuts to California’s Adult Day Health Care Services
Late Thursday, U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong ordered California to halt scheduled cuts to the state's adult day health care program, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
In July, lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) passed a budget revision package that reduced services for the program from five days per week to three.
The cuts, which were scheduled to take effect last week, would have scaled back services for more than 8,000 beneficiaries of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12).
The cuts were slated to reduce state spending on the services by $117 million in fiscal year 2009-2010 (Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 9/12).
In her 24-page decision, Armstrong ruled that the service reductions could cause "irreparable and imminent" harm to program participants.
Armstrong wrote, "The evidence presented by the plaintiffs shows that the continuing availability of five days of ADHC services per week is critical to their physical and mental health and their continuing ability to remain integrated in their community, as opposed to being isolated in a nursing home or other institution" (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12).
After the ruling, the state Department of Aging, which administers the program, issued a memo stating that services can be restored (Santa Cruz Sentinel, 9/12).
Rachel Cameron, a spokesperson for the governor's office, said the state is reviewing its legal options regarding the ruling.
Other Legal Action
The adult day health care suit is one of many legal challenges to the recent state budget cuts.
In August, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) filed a lawsuit against several of Schwarzenegger's line-item vetoes.
In addition, a San Francisco Superior Court judge last week signed a final order blocking the governor's mandated three monthly furloughs for 7,400 employees of the State Compensation Insurance Fund.
The judge ruled that the furloughs conflicted with state insurance code that exempts the workers from cuts.Cameron said the state plans to appeal the decision (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12). 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.