How the Governor s Budget Cuts Affect You It is
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How the Governor’s Budget Cuts Affect You! It is true that California is in a critical financial crunch to the tune of a 17 Billion dollar deficit. However, Governor Schwarzenegger has repeatedly tried to cut essential programs to the poor, elderly, and disabled, even though California is recognized as one of the most supportive states for vital programs for persons with disabilities, seniors, and low-income families. The governor continues to protect Republican interests for the wealthiest Californians instead of the poor and most vulnerable populations in the state. There are four areas of proposed cuts to persons with disabilities and two major cuts to provider services related to those programs. For SVILC consumers and for PWDs everywhere the four cuts that impact us most include, 1) Medi-Cal Optional Benefits; 2) Medi-Cal Eligibility for Immigrants and Families; 3) In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Cuts; and 4) SSI/SSP Cost of Living Adjustment. For the two major Provider Cuts, they have to do with eliminating 10% of medical providers, and reduction of salaries for personal health-care providers. To explain more fully: First, the Optional Medi-Cal services would eliminate everything from dental care, acupuncture, psychological services, and eye/ear exams to necessary wheelchair repair/replacement, durable medical equipment such as prosthetics, and vital medical creams and washes. Second, most immigrants as well as families who have a person with disabilities who currently have no-cost Medi-Cal benefits will no longer be eligible for critical medical services in California. These families will probably need to pay hundreds each month for the same coverage they get now for free. Third, the In-Home Support Services (IHSS) cuts are no longer across the board at 18% for everyone, but now are proposed by ranking by your in-take social worker, so that if you are ranked as a functional 1 2, or 3, you will no longer be eligible for those services. Thus more than 84,000 people (out of the IHSS Program’s 408,000 persons with disabilities) receiving in-home support services would have to go without crucial services such as meal preparation and cleanup, housekeeping, laundry, drives to doctors appointments and food shopping. Additionally the Governor’s May Revision includes an increased co-pay for recipients of IHSS to the tune of around $427 per month, impacting 7,100 consumers. Fourth, regarding the SSI and SSP state funds, the Governor proposes to eliminate the October 2008 and June 2009 State Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) and withhold the 2009 federal SSI COLA. About 1.3 million people with disabilities and seniors rely on payments received from the SSI/SSP program to meet basic living needs, never mind that the cost of living has increased and the COLAs don’t keep up with it. And finally, the two cuts that impact Medi-Cal and IHSS consumers are a 10% cut in payments to providers such as doctors, home health and Adult Day Health Services. These two provider cuts have already been proposed by the Governor and accepted by the California state Legislature for this year and will take effect on October 1. This will make it harder for people with disabilities who use Medi-Cal to get medical care, because some providers (doctors) may stop serving people who use Medi-Cal; thus forcing many poor people into already packed Emergency Rooms. Significantly, various medical professionals have filed a lawsuit challenging this particular provider cut. Still, the final insult to injury is that the governor has proposed a reduction in provider rate, so that the amount an in-home health- care provider will now be paid from state funds is set at minimum wage, which is in most places about $8.00 plus he is offering an additional .60 (cents). This puts the burden on the counties, who are in many cases not able to supply additional cost of living funds for such providers. Ultimately this means that either providers will quit and find jobs that pay a decent wage or they will cut back on what they are now doing for a person with a major disability in order to find other means of financial support. In either case, ‘provider cuts’ are a bad deal for Californians with disabilities. In closing I want you to know that there is a chance for this to be different. If we take these devastating budget cuts to the disabled to the media and get their attention -- if we rally in public forums and write/call our Democratic legislators to tell them why these cuts hurt us -- if we write Governor Schwarzenegger a personal letter, telling him and the Republican Assembly Members and Senators how these cuts impact our life, then we have a chance to be heard. Go to svilc.org or call us for a list of our Santa Clara County Legislators and their contact info. The major problem for our community is that we do not have a big enough lobby in Sacramento to be heard. Everyone in the state is knocking down the doors of the legislature to be heard. If we are to be heard, we must begin a grassroots action as strong as the civil rights action that took place in the 1960’s and 1970’s. We can make a difference. But to do this each and every one of you who is affected by these cuts must find the courage to speak up! These are your civil rights, one lone advocate in Santa Clara County cannot do it by herself; it is up to you!! Let’s get together and form a strong coalition of SVILC consumers working together for the future of all persons with disabilities. More on the Budget • If you would like to write a letter to the Governor or to any of our California Assembly members or state senators go to svilc.org to find a list of names and contact information • If you would like to join a rally, call me at SVILC and leave me a message with your name, phone and best times to reach you. We will plan a rally sometime in June or July. • If you would like to write your local newspaper about how these cuts impact or hurt you, go to google.com and type in ‘What news papers are in [your city’s name]? Here are some links to current articles now out on the Budget May Revisions: 1) Latest Schwarzenegger Budget Plan Slashes In-Home Supportive Services Which Helps 408,000 Elderly, Blind or Disabled Californians Live Safely At Home By Jovan Agee Political and Legislative Director United Domestic Workers of America http://www.udwa.org/urgent.htm 2) The California Health and Human Services Budget Fact Document May Revision (http://www.chhs.ca.gov/Pages/default.aspx), which is available in PDF and Word. This last document is really big. 3) Governor proposes deeper health and welfare cuts By Judy Lin - firstname.lastname@example.org Published 1:04 pm PDT Wednesday, May 14, 2008 (This site is great, you can make comments on the article on their website).