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Older Californians with disabilities struggle to remain at home as public programs lose funding
Date:12/7/2011

California's low-income seniors with disabilities are struggling to remain in their homes as public funding for long-term care services shrinks and may be slashed even further, according to a new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research conducted with support from The SCAN Foundation.

Should as much as $100 million in additional cuts be made to In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) on Dec. 15, as proposed by the state Legislature, seniors with disabilities will lose crucial support systems that allow them to remain safely in their homes and out of nursing homes. This vulnerable group could face a 20 percent loss in the number of paid caregiver hours they receive, on top of cuts already enacted earlier this year.

"California was once a national model for long-term care, but those services are being rolled back," said Kathryn Kietzman, the study's lead author. "Our system is far from perfect, but as our population ages, this isn't the time to take away the supports seniors depend on.

"A 20 percent cut in caregiver hours would be devastating to disabled seniors' health and well-being," she added. "And in the long run, it could cost the state more, because ailing seniors will end up in expensive emergency rooms, hospitals and nursing homes."

For the study, researchers spent a year following and documenting the lives of a typical group of seniors with disabilities who are enrolled in Medicare and Medi-Cal and receive in-home and community care in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties. The seniors depend on fragile networks of paid public programs and unpaid help to live safely and independently at home in spite of already limited caregiving hours.

Aging safely and independently at home is not only a strongly held desire of most Americans; the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W. (1999) requires public programs to honor these desires when feasible, the study au
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Contact: Letisia Marquez
l.marquez@ucla.edu
310-794-6963
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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