As covered last month on Politic365, Governor Jerry Brown’s budget is poised to make some devestating cuts. Facing a nearly $16 billion deficit, California Governor Brown’s budget proposal will cut at home care workers’ hours by seven percent. Cuts to home care workers will not only affect those being treated, but there could be far reaching consequences for families of sick and disabled folks – and for California tax payers.
For the past week, home care workers, the sick, and the elderly have been in Sacramento ramping up pressure on legislators to fix the state’s home care system to prevent budget cuts from taking effect. The ultimate goal is to pass an alternative to what the Governor is proposing. Their campaign is called “Healthy at Home,” which promotes a bill introduced by State Senator Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Perez to secure the future of home health care and make the delivery of care more consumer oriented.
Steinberg’s bill, SB 1503, would require the creation of a stakeholder group to design a plan for the integration of long-term health services, would provide a plan to make home services the first option for long-term care, coordinate a plan to maximize cost effectiveness and maintain a consumer’s right to hire, fire and supervise his or her home care provider. Numerous studies have established that home care is more cost effective than institutional care in a hospital or nursing home.
The folks with Let’s Get Health at Home say that it costs the state about $4,000 per month to place an elderly or disabled person in a facility, while In Home Supportive Services pays home care providers between $9-$11 an hour to provide care at home. Home health care costs a bit less than half of what insitutional care would cost. More than 400,000 low income seniors and disabled Californians benefit from this program. Without it, there would likely be more hospitalizations, which ultimately are paid for by the taxpayer.
Additionally, funding for home care in the states is augmented by funding from the federal government. In California, for every $2 the state spends on home care, it receives $4 in federal funding. If Jerry Brown’s budget succeeds, a chunk of federal funding could disappear.
In minority communities, there are already disparities in care and health outcomes. Cutting home care, which is a key component in maintaining health and preventing hospitalization, could be an added burden for already strapped Black and Latino families in California. Last week protesters delivered 75,000 petitions to the Governor’s office urging him to reconsider the cuts. The legislative budget deadline is on Friday, June 15th, so the Governor and legislators will need to come up with a deal soon.
Governor Brown’s approval rating is dipping. 43 percent of California voters disapprove of the job he’s doing, while 42 percent approve. Yet a majority of voters remain supportive of his plan to raise taxes in November. Governor Brown will have to remain popular enough to successfully promote his tax plan or get used to being the bearer of bad news.