Sometimes an article gets printed that is pure political poetry. “Do We Care?” is one of them. There are 2 professions that are exempt from federal labor standards: farm work and domestic work. Domestic Worker advocates are asking that domestic workers be provided with at least a minimum wage, and allow for breaks and sick days.
“Do We Care?” shines a light on this issue and more. It asks, “What is real wealth?” and “How are we planning for the caregivers for the Silver Tsunami heading our way?” It’s a long article, and it will ask you to stay engaged, but it will be worth it. You can read the article here: Do We Care?. (Steven T. Jones, SF Bay Guardian 3/26/2013)
Sometimes an article gets printed that is pure political poetry. “Do We Care?” is one of them. There are 2 professions that are exempt from federal labor standards: farm work and domestic work. Domestic Worker advocates are asking that domestic workers be provided with at least a minimum wage, and allow for breaks and sick days.
Aging parents worry about adult children with disabilities
By Anita Creamer email@example.com Published: Sunday, Mar. 3, 2013
Jessica Funkhouser’s specialty is putting together small clamps that attach conduits to the wall, but she has big dreams. At 28, she likes dragons and dinosaurs, heavy metal music and history. She wants to be a writer.
At Pride Industries’ Auburn workshop – where her father, 61-year-old Tom Funkhouser, a Navy veteran and Hewlett Packard retiree, works as a production trainer across the floor from Jessica’s work table – she puts on her turquoise earphones and deals with the clamps.
“I usually just do clamp, clamp, clamp,” she said.
But she’s working, and she likes that.
When she was born with a rare genetic disorder causing developmental disabilities and physical challenges, doctors told Tom and Patti Funkhouser that their tiny, dark-haired daughter would never walk or talk. She probably wouldn’t even survive childhood, doctors said.
“They said Jessica would be a vegetable,” her father said. “They said we should institutionalize her. But Patti and I are not that way. We were terrified, but we brought her home, and we loved her very much.”
Four years later, the couple’s younger daughter, Lori, now 24, was born with the same disorder. The daughters have autosomal recessive microcephaly with agenesis of the corpus callosum, a heavy-duty term that means, among other things, that the two hemispheres of the brain can’t communicate normally.
Now Tom and Patti Funkhouser, who have no other children, are facing the issue that haunts parents of adult children with special needs: What happens to their daughters after they’re gone?
“We just hope it doesn’t come to that point, but I know it will,” said Patti Funkhouser, 55. “I worry about it. We’re getting older. What do we do? Right now, we’re taking it day to day.”
Across the country, according to U.S. Census figures, 20 percent of adults below age 65 have developmental or physical disabilities – and almost 70 percent of the families of special-needs adults in a recent MetLife survey said they worried about their offspring’s future.
The Alta California Regional Center, which serves 18,250 people with developmental disabilities in 10 counties, has about 5,000 adult clients who still live at home with their parents, just as Jessica and Lori do.
“And every one of those clients will age,” said Phil Bonnet, the regional center’s executive director. “People who grew up in our system are now middle-aged, and their parents are older.”
As a result, said the executive director of Sacramento’s Resources for Independent Living, Frances Gracechild: “We have this phenomenon of aging parents with increasing need for support themselves, and they’re still taking care of their grown developmentally disabled children.
“It’s quite a burden to meet when you’re facing your 70s.”
As they age, the parents of the adult developmentally disabled may need legal counseling to put together a special-needs trust to care for their offspring, and they may need advice on residential options, said Fran Smith, a Yolo County advocate for the developmentally disabled. Two of her children had cerebral palsy.
“I was always worried about what my kids would do when I die, but they both predeceased me,” she said. “Parents need a coach. They need somebody to help them. Thinking about what will happen to your grown child after you’re gone is painful.
“I’ve heard people say, ‘I’ll think about it when I’m older,’ and they’re in their 70s.”
The Funkhousers are diligently putting together employment and independent living skills for Jessica. She has worked for Pride for six years, a little longer than her father has coached other employees – but not his own daughter – on their product assembly skills.
Her parents say that Jessica’s patience and social proficiency have improved over that time. Now, with the help of her Pride counselor, she’s working on becoming more punctual.
But she’s in no rush to live on her own.
“I’ve thought about living independently many times,” she said, “but I go right back to the fact that I want to live with Mom and Dad. I depend greatly on my Mom. When I’m away from home, I feel lonely. I want my Mom. I’m just not comfortable.”
On the other hand, her younger sister – whom the Funkhousers describe as having the communication level of a 3-year-old as well as severe physical problems – requires 24-hour care.
“I worry about my sister a lot,” Jessica said.
The Funkhousers are still considering the plans they need to put in place to care for their daughters in the future. They have concerns and questions – but as of yet, no answers.
“You take every day as it comes,” said Patti Funkhouser. “You deal with what comes, and you thank God they’re still here. And then you start over the next day.”
© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
You can read the orginal article here.
The holiday season is a time of giving. More now than any other time of year, people feel compelled to donate their time and resources to organizations that feed the hungry. With hunger at the forefront of people’s minds this season, we have a real opportunity to further the conversation and engage people in advocacy addressing the root causes of both hunger and poverty to create lasting change.
According to MIT professor Amy Glasmeier, “At the core, hunger is the result of employment instability and the lack of an adequate minimum wage. If an employer is allowed to pay a person a wage that essentially does not lift them out of poverty, then the real culprit is failed federal policy.” The annual income (at 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year) of someone earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is $15,080, which, for a family of two, falls just below the federal poverty line. Nearly 16 percent of Americans fall at or below the poverty line. Many retail and food service employers systematically manipulate worker schedules in order to deny them the benefits of full term employment.
Last month, workers from the three largest employers of low-income workers in the U.S. (Walmart, Yum! Brands and McDonald’s) went on strike. On Black Friday, hundreds, if not thousands, of Walmart employees walked off the job and joined protests in 100 cities across 46 states to raise their voices against low pay, lack of benefits and retribution against workers who attempt to organize. Six days later, fast food workers in New York City went on strike for union recognition and a raise in pay. Campaigns for paid sick days for restaurant workers are also gaining momentum.
Civic engagement is critical in building support for a living wage, which would allow workers to maintain a decent standard of living (adequate food, shelter and other necessities) without having to resort to public assistance. On Election Day, the citizens of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and San Jose, California, voted to increase the minimum wage, and voters in Long Beach, California, instituted a living wage for hotel workers. Before Thanksgiving, anti-hunger advocates in New York pushed for minimum wage increases, as the State Senate there may vote on the issue in the lame duck session. And on December 17th, the New Jersey Assembly passed a measure to start a process to increase that state’s minimum wage by one dollar.
These recent wins are a promising sign. However, until a living wage is instituted nationwide for all workers, many of the working poor must continue to rely on SNAP (formally known as food stamps). Food stamps do not “end hunger,” but they are essential in helping low-income workers make ends meet. Any cutbacks in the program would make it much harder for SNAP recipients to feed their families. As the fiscal cliff approaches, it is important that we advocate to protect SNAP and those who rely on it, but perhaps the most important thing we can advocate for in a time when the ranks of the working poor exceed 47 million is a national living wage that keeps up with inflation. If ending hunger is your mission, embracing higher wages for the working poor might just be your game.
Reposted from Care2 make a difference Dec. 22, 2012
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/why-wages-matter-in-the-fight-to-end-hunger.html#ixzz2GH8loKg6
SSI, People With Disabilities, and Reaching the Federal Poverty Level. Information Bulletin #366 (11/2012). ~ Steve Gold http://stevegoldada.blogspot.com/2012/11/ssi-people-with-disabilities-and.html
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is basically a federal program for people who are disabled (and older Americans).
As of 2011, there were about 6.7 million people with disabilities who received SSI (another 1 million recipients were over 65). These people are the poorest of all the disabled people in the country. Most of them do not qualify for either Social Security or Medicare; some receive both SSI and Social Security, but combined only to the SSI level.
Throughout the recent election campaign and well before that, there has been virtually no discussion, mention or let alone a moral outrage
addressing a basic minimal, basic, livable support for people who struggle to survive on SSI.
The current monthly federal SSI grant is $698 a month ($8,376 annually) for a single person and for a couple it’s $1,086 a month ($13,032
annually). SSI eligibility automatically triggers Medicaid eligibility.
States have the option to provide a State Supplement to the federal SSI grant. Of the 6.7 million people with disabilities who somehow survive on SSI, only 1.6 million, who live in the community, receive a State Supplement.
By and large, most States supplement SSI for persons who reside in personal care homes, Medicaid facilities, nursing homes, and other institutions but not for people with disabilities who live independently in the community. The amount of institutional SSI State supplement is much higher than the SSI State supplement to live independently in the community. Hmmm. Sounds like another institutional bias, contrary to ADA’s “the most integrated setting” — a la Olmstead.
Let’s put the monthly federal SSI sums in some perspective. The federal poverty level is $10,890 for a single person and $14,710 for a couple, compared to the SSI federal $8,376 and $13,032 respectively. As inadequate as the federal poverty level is, it should be the bottom
For people with disabilities who must survive on SSI, they live on 75% of the federal poverty level for a single person and 83% of the FPL for a couple. This gap has been approximately the same for the last ten years.
For those persons who reside in the community on SSI, to reach just the federal poverty level, the federal SSI grant (or a State supplement) would have to increase by $209 a month for a single person and $140 for a couple. Other than Alaska, no State provides that amount of a State Supplement for single persons with a disability who reside independently in the community. Only five States provide more than $140 a month for a couple.
We all know how extremely difficult it is for a SSI recipient who is disabled to find a place to live that they can afford. The “2010 Priced Out” Report clearly demonstrated how the housing market overwhelmingly trumps the SSI grant.
What advocates could do:
- This is a federal issue. We do not believe any States will voluntarily increase their SSI State Supplements so people could afford to live healthy and safe lives independently in the community.
- We need to make this a moral issue! It’s an outrage that the poorest disabled and elderly Americans are totally ignored and forgotten.
- SSI cuts across all disability categories and the elderly. Therefore, increasing SSI is a great unifying and organizing issue.
- Increasing the federal SSI amount even to the extremely inadequate federal poverty level is an economic stimulus on both a federal and State levels. People on SSI spend their entire grants just to survive, putting their entire grants into the economy. These are federal allocations well spent!
- Where is the White House on this issue? Call the White House Domestic Policy, (202) 456-5594, and let them know.
- Where are your U.S. Senators and House of Representatives who claim to represent and care about persons with disabilities and the elderly? Call them.
Resources for Independent Living www.ril-sacramento.org
RIL’s STATEMENT ON THE “OCCUPY MOVEMENT”
November 28, 2011
In solidarity with our sister Independent Living Center in Chico, Independent Living Services of Northern California (ILSNC), RIL sends a message of support to peaceful protesters in Sacramento, Oakland, UC Davis, and all other American cities and around the world. We call upon all protesters to remain steadfast in their commitment to non-violence. We condemn not only the violence and excessive force deployed by the Oakland Police and the UC Davis Campus Police, but also the vandalism perpetrated by misguided individuals who reject the values of the Occupy Movement.
RIL believes that public protest and non-violent civil disobedience is often necessary to correct injustice. It’s a core American tradition going back to the founding of our democracy. From the Boston Tea Party to the women’s suffragette and labor movements; from the civil rights sit-ins to the Section 504 and ADA occupations by disability rights pioneers, our cherished victories required direct action.
Since long before the economic crash of 2008, people with disabilities have been fighting relentless cuts to our support programs and services. In California, we’re facing even more cuts, including a massive “trigger cut” to In-Home Supportive Services on December 15th. This planned 20% reduction hangs like an axe over the head of thousands of low-income people with disabilities. Having been pushed to the limits of human endurance, we clearly identify with the pain and frustration expressed by the new “Occupy” movement. Many of us feel like the general population has finally caught up with what we’ve been experiencing for a very long time.
Throughout this economic crisis we have asked for nothing more than shared sacrifice. We assert that catastrophic program cuts can be prevented by employing fair, common sense tax reforms to produce desperately needed revenue. Tragically, as public treasuries continue to drain, our elected leaders act like obedient servants to the tax-cutting demands of their powerful campaign donors. The full weight of “deficit reduction” is therefore borne by those already struggling in poverty.
While we live in dread of the next cut, enormous tax breaks are given to corporations who promise to “create jobs” that never materialize. Bankers, whose blatant criminality eliminated millions of American jobs, enjoy billion-dollar bailouts while unemployed protesters are arrested for “camping.” As vital disability programs and services are gutted, we learn that 2/3 of U.S. corporations – particularly the largest and most profitable – pay zero annual income taxes. Fear-mongering politicians pontificate about the federal deficit while pouring trillions of dollars of new debt – not to mention thousands of young American lives – into foreign wars that a growing majority of Americans find difficult to justify.
In today’s political environment, we find ourselves either patronized or completely ignored. Now is the time for everyday Americans to unite and organize a bold resistance to this injustice. We believe that the peaceful protests taking place in over a thousand U.S. cities demonstrate the beginning of a new awakening.
For these reasons RIL urges members and allies of the disability community to take action now. Make a personal commitment to contribute and to persevere for as long as it takes. Get involved with disability advocates in your community. Visit and support your local Occupy encampment. While you’re there, educate on disability issues and advocate for inclusion. Help build diverse alliances and think beyond immediate self-interests. Do whatever you can – start today!
Despite enormously powerful forces that stand against us, indifferent to the suffering of millions, we are confident in the power of our unity. Each of us has the ability to make a personal choice to work together for the common good. We will succeed if we can overcome our own apathy, disunity and defeatism.
We are the inheritors of a world made possible by the activists who came before us. Let’s honor their legacy, change our lives and save our children’s future by seizing this moment to do something great. Occupy Wall Street can become our best chance to restore fairness and opportunity before it’s too late. There has never been a better time to build the powerful kind of coalition we’ve dreamed about. And we’ll only have ourselves to blame if it turns out otherwise.
“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.”
- Frederick Douglass
(RIL thanks Evan LeVang, the Executive Director of ILSNC for drafting the original Statement on the “Occupy Movement”.)
Proposed State Budget Trigger Cuts to IHSS
Submitted by Frances Gracechild, Chair, Advisory
Committee, based on excerpts from the California
Disability Community Action Network Report,
Dear Yolo County Supervisors and all Yolo County IHSS stakeholders:
As the current Chair of the Yolo County IHSS Advisory Committee I am pleased to report the following committee activities during the last year.
Monthly Advisory Committee (AC) meetings were held on topics of urgent concern for the continuance of a quality IHSS program in California and Yolo County: Those topics included the State Budget deficit crisis, reductions in funding to the IHSS program, new requirements for mandated provider enrollment and DOJ checks, information regarding lists of “Tier I and Tier II” crimes, proposed and final changes to IHSS and elimination of Adult Day Health Care as a Medicaid benefit. Committee members spent several sessions working on how to run a meaningful Advisory Committee without the customary AC budget of $50,000. We found ways to continue our work with an estimated budget of $4,500. Our biggest regret during those committee negotiations was the inability to continue to pay a portion (%) of the salary of the PA Director. We had taken great pride in previous budget years in donating to preserve full time status of our Public Authority Director. We are blessed that Supervisor Provenza provided the necessary leadership in finding and obtaining board approval for contingency funding for 2011-2012. Without the full time status of our devoted PA Director we would have been unable to conduct the following activities:
• Four AC members traveled to San Jose to a statewide conference designed to empower California Advisory Committee members through communication and education;
• Three members traveled to Sacramento in January on the day of the Governor Brown’s press conference and all were interviewed by media – the governor shook hands with one of our members;
• One member had an editorial published in the Woodland Daily Democrat about protecting In-Home Supportive Services from further budget reductions;
• Three members participated in the Capitol Action Day Rally to protest budget cuts to IHSS and Adult Day Health Care centers; and
• One member gave personal testimony to the Assembly Aging and Long Term Care Committee.
Back in June, 2010, as the California Legislature struggled to balance the state budget, rather than forcing additional massive spending cuts, they estimated that the economy would improve and state revenues would increase. They added two “triggers” that would impose automatic spending cuts if the amount if state revenues of $85.5 billion dollars were not reached by December 15th.
According to figures from the State Controller, the state economy is showing improvement, but it is not bringing in revenues as hoped for. Some in the State Capitol believe if the trend continues one or both of the “trigger cuts” will likely be pulled.
If State revenues are forecast in December 2011 to be lower by $1 billion to $2 billion, the first State budget “trigger” will be pulled, causing $600 million in automatic spending cuts for specific programs effective sometime after January 1, 2012.
If State revenue numbers in December 2011 are forecast to be lower by more than $2 billion, then the second State budget “trigger” would be pulled, causing spending cuts of up to $1.9 billion.
Though, as of this writing, no decisions on the State Budget “trigger cuts” have yet been made – and will not be made until December- the State Department of Social Services is preparing notices and documents just in case they are needed.
Cuts to IHSS would be a 20% across the board cut estimated to save the state $100 million in the remaining 6 months of the 2011-2012 budget year.
If this “trigger cut” is pulled it would be in addition to the 3.6% cut that took effect in February of this year.
If this “trigger cut” goes into effect, it allows for exemptions for those who are at serious risk of out of home placement if they lost 20% of their service hours.
If the “trigger cut” goes into effect recipients may choose how the total reduction in service hours is applied to their individual authorized services.
If the “trigger cut” goes into effect it will not apply to individuals receiving IHSS who also receive services under one of the State Home and Community Based Services Waivers; i.e. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Waiver, Home and Community-Based Services Waiver for the Developmentally Disabled (HCBS-DD), In-Home Operations (IHO), Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP), and Nursing Facility/ Acute Hospital (NF/AH).
If the “trigger cut” goes into effect the 20% reduction will first be applied to any documented unmet need, excluding protective supervision, before being applied to authorized hours.
If the “trigger cut” goes into effect any IHSS recipient who receives notice of the reduction in authorized services who believes the reduction puts her/him at serious risk of placement in out-of-home care may submit an application for IHSS Supplemental Care to request full or partial restoration of her/his reduced hours.
If the “trigger cut” goes into effect the California State Department will work with counties to develop a process to allow for counties to pre-approve IHSS Supplemental Care requests.
If the “trigger cut” goes into effect in January, you will receive appropriate notice(s) and forms from your Yolo County Adult Service worker.
If the “trigger cut” goes into effect in January, you will need to remember to request “Aid Paid Pending” to maintain your current authorized hours while the appeal of the NOA is processed.
If the “trigger cut” go into effect in January we must stage a resistance on multiple fronts: Rallies, press conferences, visits to our representatives and, for the very bravest of justice warriors, join the non-violent protesters of Occupy Wall Street. Many years from now when our grandchildren ask us what we were doing in 2012 during a worldwide uprising for economic justice we want to say we stood up for In- Home Supportive Services so people with disabilities could live safely and with dignity in their homes and communities.
Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP): “Faces of the Revolution,” Stories from the people who make BORP’s Revolution Happen. Visit their website at: http://www.borp.org/
We need not just jobs, but jobs that pay
(CNN) — Everyone to the left of Michele Bachmann seems to agree that America’s most immediate problem isn’t the budget deficit, but the jobs deficit.
Fourteen million Americans are unemployed, and the number ranges up to almost 16 million if you include those who want full-time jobs but can only find part-time ones. Put all those people to work, and they will cheerfully run out to the malls and spend, thus reigniting the engine of consumer capitalism. Or so the conventional wisdom goes.
But just how many jobs will the economy have to generate to cure the jobs deficit — 14 million? Sixteen million? Or a whole lot more? The answer depends not just on the number of people out of work but on the quality of jobs being offered.
According to a January report from the National Employment Law Project, 76% of the new jobs generated in 2010 were of the low-paying variety, offering between $9 to $15 an hour. Some people can get by quite handily on $9 or so an hour — especially if they’re willing to live outdoors or on a friend’s couch — but, generally speaking, the less jobs pay, the more of them you’re going to need to get.
Suppose you’re a parking lot attendant, a dishwasher or an office cleaner, and you earn only the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. If you have two children to support, your annual earnings will be $3,000 below the official poverty level for a family of three, so you’ll need at least a part-time second job. Not to mention the fact that you’ll need to designate one of your children as a full-time baby sitter for the other.
Having worked in several low-paid jobs myself, I get a little nervous when people start throwing around the word “jobs” unmodified by adjectives such as “decent-paying” or “good.” What kind of jobs are we talking about? Are we talking about jobs with union-style wages and benefits or big-box McJobs that come with the assumption that you’ll qualify for food stamps?
Between 1998 and 2000, while doing research for my book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America,” I worked as a waitress, a maid with a cleaning service, a nursing home aide and a Walmart associate, with my pay averaging $7 an hour, or the equivalent of about $9 an hour in today’s dollars. Even when I managed to line up my schedule so I could work two jobs at a time, discretionary spending wasn’t on the agenda — not after gas, food and rent for a half-size trailer or a room in a shabby residential motel. Fortunately, jobs were easy to find at the time, and the soaring dot-com economy wasn’t depending on me.
I know the argument: The more jobs there are, even low-paying, the more power workers have to demand higher wages, so wages will automatically rise. But in the late ’90s, while employers were experiencing a “labor shortage,” hourly wages rose only slightly — not because the law of supply and demand had been suspended, but because employers had become fiendishly efficient at preventing workers from organizing to demand higher wages. Today, with the very concept of collective bargaining under political attack from the right, the chance that more jobs will mean better jobs has grown even slimmer.
President Barack Obama promised — just three years ago when he was in general a more promising sort of fellow — that he would raise the federal minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011. Maybe he forgot, just as he forgot his promise to press for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made it easier for workers to organize. Or maybe he was intimidated by unemployment rates in excess of 9% and accepted the defeatist notion that any job — no matter how low-paid, backbreaking or abusive — is better than none.
That’s been the sad trajectory of the American middle-class spirit from the late ’70s to the present day: We’ve gone from Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” to begging the sleek-suited “job creators” for whatever they can throw our way.
Fortunately there are some courageous exceptions to this idea. Forty-five thousand Verizon employees are walking picket lines to defend their hard-won union wages and benefits. Thousands of Walmart employees have signed up as members of an association (“Our Walmart”) to demand respect from the company.
Even the most isolated and “invisible” workers — nannies and maids — are organizing themselves into a National Domestic Workers Alliance. As anyone in these groups could you tell: We don’t just need more jobs, we need more jobs that treat employees like humans and pay what you could actually live on.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Barbara Ehrenreich.
California’s Adult Day Health Care System: Transition to Nowhere
By Assemblymember Mariko Yamada
Chair, Assembly Committee on Aging and Long Term Care
Almost forty years ago, California pioneered a system to keep frail elders and persons with disabilities in supportive community day settings. In response to the highly publicized, disturbing stories of nursing home abuse in the ‘70’s, the Adult Day Health Care Center (ADHC) model emerged as a more humane and less costly alternative.
Today, there are 37,000 low-income nursing home-eligible seniors and disabled adults enrolled in over 300 ADHC’s throughout the state. These clients are served by over 7,000 care providers—physical therapists, nurses, social workers, nutritionists and more—who provide a constellation of health and social service interventions to keep adults free from institutions. This daytime care model is as important to a frail elder as childcare is to a toddler. In neither case is it moral, ethical, or legal to leave a dependent individual home alone, unsupervised and without care. Also, in each case, a working adult family member has some peace-of-mind—if he or she is still lucky enough to have a job in today’s economy.
The late 90’s saw an explosion in adult day health care, after the Legislature lifted the restriction against “for profit” centers. Regrettably, relaxation also allowed unscrupulous operators to proliferate, particularly in southern California. By 2004, the Legislature enacted a statewide moratorium on new ADHC Medi-Cal certifications, effectively capping program enrollment.
Since then, an ever-growing population of impoverished and disabled older adults, many with complex chronic conditions, along with the State’s continuing rocky financial condition, has put the “optional” adult day health care benefit at the crux of the annual game of “budget chicken”. Both Republican and Democratic governors have proposed either severe cuts or outright elimination of the program. Along the way, the courts have provided measured but short-term relief while ADHC clients, their families, and those who cared for them were cast-about in the stormy seas of fiscal uncertainty.
In March of this year, I, along with every other Democrat in the Assembly, voted to support Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate the optional ADHC benefit in California. It is a vote I regret daily. The unified Assembly majority support came tempered with the belief that our Governor would provide for a scaled-down transition program, “Keeping Adults Free From Institutions” (KAFI). KAFI would continue the program using the underlying principles of the adult day health care system—an integrated model of social and medical services.
Incomprehensibly, on Monday, July 25, the Governor vetoed AB 96 (Blumenfield, D – Van Nuys), legislation that would have allocated $85 million, with 100% federal matching funds doubling to $170 million, to establish the “KAFI” program with eligibility based on medical acuity. Our scaled-down approach vanished.
Although recent state and federal administrative actions have extended the ADHC benefit to December 1, an expected court hearing challenging the original ADHC cuts has been continued to November 1, plunging existing centers further into chaos and confusion.
Without a clear transition vehicle, and a judicial decision expected less than 30 days prior to the federal deadline for elimination, 17 ADHC’s have already closed and many more will not risk keeping their doors open. The Assembly Committee on Aging and Long Term Care which I chair will convene a hearing on Tuesday, August 16 at 2 p.m. in the State Capitol to assess the costs and consequences of these closures.
Over thirty years ago, State Senator Henry Mello issued a paper establishing the need for 600 adult day health care centers in our state. Yet now, we have less than half that many in operation, with more closing each day. The “silver tsunami” is at our doorstep; the fastest growing age cohort is 85-100, and thousands of persons with autism will be coming of age in the next decade. Instead of protecting and preserving a cost-effective, integrated system of community care, we are in the process of destroying not only the innovation, but the spirits of all those who have fought so valiantly to continue this program. Once this now maimed system is eliminated, and clients are shunted to less appropriate and more expensive services, many family members will have to quit their jobs to care for their aging or disabled loved ones. This, along with the ripple effects in a bad economy puts our State in a more precarious fiscal situation. Beyond the financial deficit we face, the elimination of the adult day health care model in California reflects a moral deficit from which I am not sure we will ever fully recover.