California seniors may have nowhere to go
March 20, 2010
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed eliminating Medi-Cal funding for adult day health programs and senior advocates across California are concerned. [Contra Costa Times]
The proposed cuts, which would save $104 million annually, are part of Sacramento’s attempts to address the state’s $20 billion budget deficit. The idea is subject to approval by the Legislature, but relatives are already worried that they may have to quit jobs to care for loved ones full-time, or face putting them in nursing homes.
The nursing home option, critics say, could result in increased costs for the state because it would be more expensive to house Medi-Cal patients in nursing homes than day programs.
There are currently 327 adult day programs in California, serving nearly 37,000 people. Advocates argue that the programs are successful because they offer needed respite for caregivers, while helping seniors avoid isolation and depression. These seniors are kept busy during the day, but go home at night.
The executive director of one adult day health program called the proposed cuts “fiscal foolishness and inhumane.”
Lydia Missaelides of the California Association for Adult Day Services says that because many of the centers serve a large portion of the Medi-Cal recipients, no state funding, means no centers.
“If that decision were made, you’d see centers close up almost immediately,” Missaelides said. “It would create a horrible decision for the families.”
Last year’s state budget dropped from five to three the number of days per week that Medi-Cal recipients could attend the centers. They also tightened eligibility rules. However, after advocates sued, a court granted an injunction and all changes are put on hold until the trial, currently scheduled for September 2011.