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The Battle Against IHSS Budget Cuts

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Most of the California residents have felt the harsh impact of budget cuts in one way or another in the past few years.

According to the Homecare Provider’s Union, last week federal district court judge Claudia Wilken, in Oakland, “issued a court order that will continue blocking the Brown Administration and the federal government from taking any steps to implement the 20% across-the-board reduction in service hours for hundreds of thousands of children and adults with disabilities – including people with developmental disabilities [such as autism] – and seniors who receive In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS).”

There is already resistance against the new budget cuts. During the Oster v. Lightbourne lawsuit case last Thursday, on January 19th, Wilken placed a preliminary injunction on the State of California to stop it from going forward with their 20% IHSS budget cuts. According to the Sacramento Bee, “The reduction would have slashed one-fifth of service hours for In-Home Supportive Services recipients to save the state $100 million over the next six months.”

The judge’s injunction is an extension from her previous similar blockage placed upon the state in December. The judge stated that the planned cuts places serious questions on whether they are in violation of federal protection laws that protect the disabled community.

The Sacramento Bee stated, “The unionized program pays caregivers, often relatives, to provide services such as cooking, bathing and driving to medical appointments. Advocates say that many IHSS recipients would be unable to live at home without such assistance, forcing them into more costly nursing homes.” Many non-disabled people do not realize these cuts result in people giving up jobs, ending pursuits of college degrees, and losing any hope  of ever being independent.

More cuts would mean more people with disabilities would need  Social Security Income, Medicare, and other social services. Some of these very same people would even be forced in to living in institutions that weigh heavily on federal and state budgets because the residents can no longer afford to pay for care. Many of these residents that have to live in nursing home care facilities include age ranges of 19-60, forcing the young to live the rest of their lives with no interaction of their fellow peers. All of this results in further drainage on tax-payers. The cuts also affects those who work within the IHSS program such as nurses, IHSS staff, counselors, and more. More cuts will mean more people losing their jobs in a tough economy.  Locally, these cuts affect senior citizens and  San Diegians with disabilities, such as 22 year old Raul Carranza, who has Muscular Dystrophy. Raul was a student at UCLA who relied on IHSS to provide nurses to monitor his breathing ventilator. Without nurses, he could suffocate if his ventilator suddenly malfunctions. The state budget cuts forced Raul to drop out of school and return home in San Diego to his single mother, who also takes care of Raul’s little brother, Pablo, with the same type of Muscular Dystrophy. Pablo also depends on a breathing ventilator and will feel the impact of the state’s cuts.

In order to mount support for the independence of IHSS recipients, the saving of taxpayer money and public sector jobs, Raul will be hosting a rally this week on Friday, January 27th. According to his website, the rally will start at noon on 1350 Front Street in downtown San Diego.

If the government continues to place budget cuts on social services, a whole minority and age group could be condemned to live in a life of poverty and institutionalization. Should we as taxpayers pay even more by sentencing our children with disabilities and grandparents to nursing homes instead of allowing them to pursue the life they want in their own home?

Photos courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Mitchell and fabrice gille, Official Navy Page via Flickr, and Raul Carranza.

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