Gutting the IHSS Program

Helping seniors and people with disabilities remain at home is not only the right thing to do – who doesn’t want to live in their own home as long as possible? – it also makes good fiscal sense because it is much more costly to provide out-of-home care. California achieves this goal through the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Program, which is expected to provide a range of services, including assistance with dressing, bathing, and medications, to a projected 476,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities in 2010-11.

Two new CBP fact sheets released today document the impact, by county and by legislative district, of the Governor’s proposals to severely restrict eligibility for IHSS and potentially eliminate the program in 2010-11. Either proposal would cause well over 300,000 IHSS workers to lose their jobs, an alarming prospect when the state’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly above 12 percent. In addition, the Governor’s proposals would likely lead to new state costs for skilled nursing care and other services that “more than outweigh” the state savings from either reducing the caseload  by 87 percent or eliminating the program, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Whether you look at it from a moral or a fiscal perspective, the Governor’s IHSS proposals are a bad deal for California.

— Scott Graves and Raul Macias

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