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Trigger Cuts Not the Only Worry for Disabled

Yesterday’s announcement of $1 billion in trigger cuts for California’s budget includes two provisions that hit the developmentally disabled community.

One of those provisions, to scale back In-Home Supportive Services by 20%, is already in court. A federal judge last week issued a temporary restraining order to halt implementation of that cut, pending a hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

The other big budget reduction for the disabled — a $100 million cut to the Department of Developmental Services — is going to be much more difficult to fight in court, according to Tony Anderson, executive director of The Arc of California, which advocates for the developmentally disabled.

“They are projecting fewer patients, because they say estimates of caseload were too high,” Anderson said. “So they were looking for ways they could do it in statute, cutting the headquarter and other administrative costs, but we think that’s indirectly cutting patient services.”

The proposed $100 million in savings will come out of administrative costs because of that lower revision of caseload, he said, so the state won’t directly cut service hours or provider rates — the two main things that would restrict access and prompt a lawsuit, Anderson said.

The state has already been sued by Arc for freezing rates at some facilities for the disabled. That case is still in court. It is possible another lawsuit will be filed, Anderson said, if the state moves ahead with the plan to further cut back the budget for the developmentally disabled next year.

Next year the savings target is $200 million — a hit the disabled community couldn’t possibly take, Anderson said.

“There’s only one way they would make that up is by continuing cutting providers, and anytime you take away from that, it’s going to take away access,” Anderson said. “If you think about what they’re thinking of doing to the providers, it’s just going to continue to crush the system.”

The trigger cuts were ordered by the Legislature in the fall, in case revenues didn’t match projections. They haven’t, and it’s unlikely that the $100 million in cuts can be reversed. Looming over those cuts are the outcome of tomorrow’s IHSS hearing, the prospect of $200 million in cuts next year and the Jan. 9 budget revision due from the governor.

“A lot of us are expecting more cuts to come on down [on Jan. 9], and we don’t know how we can absorb that,” Anderson said. They’ve been cutting this particular department so consistently and they just have to stop that. We want them to know it’s painful. You can’t keep doing this to us. This system is getting close to the edge, and I don’t know how we’re going to do this.”

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