Schwarzenegger Administration Expected To Withdraw Support for Some Proposed Funding Cuts to Home-Care Programs
Officials for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) administration plan to announce at a Senate budget hearing Thursday that the governor will "back off" from a proposal included in his fiscal year 2004-2005 budget to eliminate funding for a program that provides home care workers for low-income residents, a Health and Human Services Agency official said Wednesday, the Sacramento Bee reports. The official added that the administration "is optimistic that the federal government will pick up part of the tab instead," according to the Bee (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 4/22). Schwarzenegger proposed to reduce by one-third funding for In-Home Supportive Services, a program that uses federal, state and county money to subsidize salaries of home care workers for low-income residents who would otherwise need to live in nursing homes. The $450 million in proposed state budget cuts would affect the residual program of IHSS that does not receive federal funds to pay for the home care of about 75,000 patients. The legislative analyst estimates that 27,000 program beneficiaries would lose all benefits if the funding cuts were approved (California Healthline, 3/22). The HHSA official said that avoiding making the budget cuts to the program will depend on whether the federal government will help pay for some of the costs. According to the Bee, Schwarzenegger and HHSA Secretary Kim Belshe "have been discussing the issue with the Bush administration since February and are optimistic that they will get permission to start using federal Medicaid funds." While federal rules do not allow federal dollars to be used to pay spouses and parents for providing care or helping with protective supervision or domestic tasks for people with diseases such as Alzheimer's, "the federal government does bend the rules for some states," the Bee reports.
According to the Bee, home care advocates on Wednesday "praised the administration's plan," but some advocates said they remained concerned with some other funding cuts to home care programs proposed by Schwarzenegger (Sacramento Bee, 4/22). Schwarzenegger also proposed reducing the minimum hourly wage rate for home-care workers from $9.50 per hour -- the state-subsidized wage -- to $6.75 per hour, and reducing annual program costs by $95 million by repealing a 1999 state law that requires counties to establish centralized authorities for home care (California Healthline, 3/22). Patricia Yeager, the director of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, said, "It's a real victory, but it's not the end of this story" (Sacramento Bee, 4/22).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.