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LA County Announces: Nearly 40,000 Seniors and Disabled to Lose Home Care Service Hours Due to State Budget Cuts

LOS ANGELES , Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- At the September meeting of the Los Angeles County Personal Assistance Services Council (PASC), officials from the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) announced that nearly 40,000 Los Angeles County seniors and people living with disabilities who rely on the State's In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program for vital care will either lose all or some of their care hours due to State budget cuts. As a direct result of these cuts, an estimated 30,000 Los Angeles County home care providers will face devastating reductions in work hours or lose their jobs entirely.

"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. For 40,000 IHSS recipients, who represent some of our most fragile residents, they lose essential care services needed to remain safely in their homes. For the 30,000 care providers who deliver this care and struggle to make ends meet, they face an even greater financial hardship than they already do today."

The State's cuts to IHSS 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 of their IHSS services due to having an overall FI score below 2.0. Thirty thousand (30,000) more recipients will lose essential domestic service hours because tasks fall below an FI score of 4.0.

"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 home care to turn to costly emergency rooms and institutions in order to survive."

Originally scheduled to take place on September 1, 2009, the cuts to the IHSS program have been pushed back to November 1 due to the enormous task of the California Department of Social Services to send a Notice of Action to all individuals who will be losing services and care hours throughout California.

In an effort to ensure that IHSS recipients know their rights, 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. They are also raising awareness of the fact that by filing an appeal quickly, they may be able to retain their current hours until their appeal is heard.

"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."

The IHSS program serves 445,000 seniors and people with disabilities throughout California (186,000 in Los Angeles County) by providing in-home care assistance for tasks such as bathing, feeding, cleaning, meal preparation, getting to doctors' appointments, and other personal care services. Every year, the IHSS program saves California taxpayers millions of dollars as it is on average 4 times LESS expensive than other alternative care options such as institutional care.

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