May 18, 2020
The following letter was sent to both the California State Assembly and California State Senate members of their respective budget committees in opposition to the proposed 7% cuts to IHSS hours.
The UDW Executive Board, on behalf of 118,000 In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers in 21 counties, condemns in the strongest terms possible the Governor’s proposed budget reductions that arbitrarily and disproportionately target low income seniors and people with disabilities.
UDW opposes the following proposals impacting IHSS:
Reinstating the 7% reduction in services hours will be devastating for IHSS consumers. It is important to note that consumers, in order to be eligible, must submit certification by a licensed health care professional that without IHSS they would be at risk of placement in out-of-home care. A consumer assessed by a county social worker as needing the average number of monthly hours (116) will lose 8 of those hours – time which is needed for laundry or bathing or grocery shopping. A consumer who is assessed as needing the maximum number of hours (283) will lose 20 hours of services per month. We know from past experience IHSS clients will have to make choices about their care that no person should ever have to make. Providers and their clients will have to rush care or decide if they have enough hours available in a given day for a client to receive help with bathing or eating a meal.
On a separate note, the 7% reduction in service hours will result in 696 IHSS providers in the counties represented by UDW losing their health insurance because they no will longer be working the minimum number of hours to remain eligible. The reduction will also impact the amount of revenue available to fund existing the health plans because, per the terms of our collective bargaining agreements, this revenue is linked to the number of paid hours worked. Based on April 2020 hours, this would result in an additional 1683 providers losing their health coverage. A total of 2,379 IHSS providers will be forced onto MediCal or become uninsured. Both are particularly terrible outcomes during the COVID pandemic.
UDW opposes all of the May Revise proposals to reduce and eliminate state programs that protect low income seniors and people with disabilities from COVID-19 infection. The Governor is proposing actions that conflict with guidance from national and state infectious disease specialists. According to the California Department of Public Health, older adults and people with serious medical conditions are at increased risk of serious complications resulting from infection and therefore must stay home as much as possible. The Center for Disease Control advises older adults and people with chronic health conditions to “stay home whenever possible and consider ways to get food, medicines, and essentials delivered to your home”.
IHSS caregivers provide these and other essential services that enable older adults and people with disabilities to shelter in place. IHSS ensures our most vulnerable populations stay out of nursing homes, where upwards of 40% of COVID-19 deaths in California have occurred. IHSS helps seniors and people with disabilities avoid hospitalization and homelessness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing the state should do is reduce IHSS or any home and community-based services.
If anything, the pandemic has created significant additional need for IHSS to account for the loss of day programs and other resources as well as the increased time needed for grocery shopping, disinfecting the home, and other safety tasks. Right now, many IHSS providers are working additional hours without pay and spending their own money to purchase PPE and cleaning supplies for their clients. These caregivers must be supported, not punished. IHSS must be augmented, not reduced. We urge you to avoid these reductions at all cost as they will result in the suffering and death of many of our most vulnerable Californians.
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