Senior Services Among Possible Budget Targets

Three innocuous-sounding words — the May revise — send shivers down the spines of health care advocates.

That budget adjustment is expected to be announced today (May 16), and Lydia Missaelides, for one, is worried.

“We’re all bracing for more cuts in the May revise,” Missaelides, executive director of the California Association of Adult Day Services, said, adding, “You know, we’re still in this politically sensitive position.”

That position stems from an odd arrangement made during the first round of cuts in March — a budget nightmare that included $6 billion in health-related program cuts. The plan at the time had been to eliminate adult day health services in California, but a last-second deal kept half of the program’s budget. The twist was that the program had to be technically eliminated and then reborn through a waiver process with the federal government.

Last Thursday, the California Department of Health Care Services did its part by eliminating funding for adult day health care centers. Now comes the tricky part.

Half of that program now has to be reinstated, in part through passage of AB 96, by Assembly member Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills).

“On Friday, we had a stakeholder meeting for transition planning,” Missaelides said. “We’re working hard to keep it moving forward.”

Missaelides said that so far five adult day health centers have closed (in Sonora, Ukiah, Lodi, San Francisco and Los Angeles).

“I expect to see more [closures],” she said. Missaelides added that those five closed centers “could possibly reopen again. But they just couldn’t take the adverse risk of continuing.”

That adverse risk is that it will be a long and rocky road to restarting the adult day health care program — starting with the May revise.

“There is transition money [for the adult day health care program] sitting in the budget bill that hasn’t been sent to the governor yet,” Missaelides said. “It certainly won’t support programs for a full year. We all know it’s not going to last long, so that doesn’t really give anyone any security.”

Missaelides paused, thinking about the May revise and the several other steps necessary to relaunch adult day health care services.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” she said, “I have a lot of very nervous folks around the state.”

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