The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services yesterday approved the settlement over cuts to In-Home Supportive Services. The agreement reduces the severity of the cut from the original 20% proposal to its current 8% cutback.
“While we don’t celebrate any cuts,” said Frank Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California, “we are in favor of the settlement agreement.”
“Eight is better than 20,” said Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), chair of the subcommittee.
The original 20% IHSS cuts were triggered by lower-than-projected budget numbers at the end of 2011. A lawsuit filed by Service Employees International Union and Disability Rights California challenged the trigger reduction.
Â A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt it. Last month, the two sides worked out a compromise settlement.
The agreement calls for an 8% cut in service hours this year, and a 7% cut in hours next year. It affects about 370,000 Californians, mostly seniors, who receive IHSS care.
“IHSS is 40 years old this year,” said Deborah Doctor, a legislative advocate for DRC. “We are for this agreement. Of course, we wish no cuts were being made, because people need the hours for which they were assessed.”
Rashi Kesarwani of the Legislative Analyst’s Office said the compromise is good for both sides.
“This is a reasonable compromise because it allows the state some savings, but it lessens reductions,” Kesarwani said. “We recommend enacting the general thrust of the agreement.”
But cuts are still cuts and a long line of beneficiaries testified against them yesterday at the subcommittee hearing. Â
Michelle Rousey, secretary of the Alameda County IHSS Advisory Committee, said she’s reluctantly in favor of the agreement — but that it likely will affect her health.
“Cuts to IHSS affect us all,” Rousey said. “You’ll give in to the cuts again and again. I don’t want to have continued cuts, we’ve already had cuts.”
What people don’t understand, she said, is that IHSS recipients are assessed to determine the number of aid hours they must have to remain independent.
“I can’t afford to give up those hours,” Rousey said. “Those are hours that we need. That’s what people don’t realize. We’re giving up something we actually need.”