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LA County budget cuts to deprive seniors, disabled of homecare service

Nearly 40,000 Los Angeles County seniors and people living with disabilities who rely on the state's In-Home Supportive Services program for vital care will lose care hours due to budget cuts.

The news came from the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) during the September meeting of the Los Angeles County Personal Assistance Services Council (PASC).

An estimated 30,000 Los Angeles County homecare providers will face reductions in work hours or lose their jobs as a direct result of the cuts.

"These cuts are devastating," said Simon Golledge, executive director of the PASC, which oversees the county's IHSS program. "The lives of 70,000 Los Angeles County residents will soon be placed in jeopardy."

The cuts are based on a Functional Index (FI) scale of 1 to 5 – with 5 representing the most extreme need of assistance. According to DPSS figures, approximately 8,400 county IHSS recipients will lose all services due to having an FI score below 2, while 30,000 will lose essential domestic service hours because tasks fall below an FI score of 4.

"Simply put, cutting the IHSS program is shortsighted and places the lives of our parents, grandparents and children with disabilities in danger," said Laphonza Butler, co-trustee of SEIU-ULTCW, the United Long Term Care Workers' Union. "In addition to endangering lives, these cuts end up costing – not saving – taxpayers money since they force people who lose their homecare to turn to costly emergency rooms and institutions in order to survive."

Originally scheduled to take place on Sept. 1, the cuts to the IHSS program have been pushed back to Nov. 1 to allow the California Department of Social Services to send a Notice of Action to everyone who will be losing services and care hours.

Disability advocates such as Communities Actively Living Independent and Free (CALIF) are spreading the word that IHSS recipients whose care hours and services are being cut have the right to appeal.

"It's imperative that any IHSS recipient who receives a Notice of Action understands that they have the right to appeal cuts to their hours," said Lillibeth Navarro, executive director of CALIF. "If they call the toll-free number on the back of their Notice of Action before the cuts are put into place and request 'aid paid pending,' their service hours should remain intact until the hearing takes place."

Advocates for the the IHSS program say it saves California taxpayers millions of dollars each year because it's, on average, four times less expensive than other alternative care options such as institutional care.

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