Judge Orders State To Help Counties Restore In-Home Care Wages
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ordered California officials to facilitate county compliance with a previous order that barred the state from reducing its contribution to wages for In-Home Supportive Services workers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
In February, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and legislators approved a $2 reduction of the state's contribution to the hourly wages of IHSS workers.Â The cut was scheduled to go into effect July 1 (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/15).
The cuts would have reduced the state's contribution to IHSS wages from $12.10 per hour to $10.10 per hour in 13 counties (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/14).
On June 26, Wilken issued an injunction against the cuts, saying the state did not comply with federal Medicaid law requiring the state to study how possible wage reductions would affect access to care.
After Wilken blocked the cuts, nine counties submitted applications to restore wages to previous levels. However, the state Department of Social Services told the counties that approval of the restored wages could take up to 60 days.
Wilken instructed state officials to approve the counties' applications by today, which is the end of the first pay period for the new fiscal year.
Lizelda Lopez, DSS spokesperson, said the agency is working to restore full IHSS wages as soon as possible (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/15).
Lopez also said the department will contact the four counties that did not submit applications to determine whether they intend to restore wages.
However, she noted that counties determine IHSS wages, not the state. She said, "The state does not have the authority to force counties to pay wages that they have not agreed to" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/14).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.