Statement of AARP California State Director Katie Hirning Regarding Governor Brown’s Proposed California State Budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015:
AARP is pleased that after years of deep budget deficits, which led to devastating cuts in home and community-based services, California can now boast of a $6 billion dollar surplus over the next two years. We applaud Governor Brown for using some of this surplus to invest in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and for providing $100 million in local assistance to support sustainable communities. Unfortunately, Governor Brown’s budget proposal does not use this opportunity to restore funding for vital home and community-based services for seniors and persons with disabilities.
The fact is that California’s is an aging population. By 2050, the number of Californians 65 and older will more than double, and the Governor’s own projections expect that population to increase by 20% in the next five years alone. We respectfully disagree with the Governor’s statement that California has maintained an adequate “safety net” for the state’s neediest and most vulnerable, many of whom depend on the In-Home Supportive Services program for their daily basic needs.
AARP also objects to the Governor’s proposal to restrict overtime pay, in spite of a Federal Department of Labor regulation, which allows for overtime pay to In-Home Support Services Providers when they exceed 40 hours of care in one week. The Governor’s budget would restrict overtime pay to documented emergency circumstances only. Unfortunately, this means a person who is elderly, disabled, and low-income, and depends on the IHSS program for their daily basic care (including medical care, bathing, feeding, etc.) would need to contact a “backup system” and ask for a different care provider that the one they would otherwise use.
Additionally, the Governor has declined to roll back 8% cuts made to IHSS, which allows aged, disabled and blind Californians to live with dignity in their own homes and communities.
We are urging the Governor to do the right thing and help build a comprehensive long-term care infrastructure in California. In October 2013, AARP conducted an Independent Living and Family Caregiver Survey that found that 86% of those polled strongly agreed that government should redirect resources so more money is spent on in-home care rather than on costly nursing facilities. Instead of eliminating overtime for IHSS, AARP recommends that the Governor restore reductions made to SSI/SSP, IHSS, and adult day health programs; and that he reverse soon-to-take-effect cuts reimbursement cuts to Medi-Cal providers. We also encourage the Governor to call for an end to the reductions in Medi-Cal optional benefits such as eyeglasses, incontinence supplies, and dental care.
AARP also urges the Governor to include in his budget revision additional funds to shore up services that have been reduced by the federal sequestration, such as senior nutrition and housing programs.
In California we have a great opportunity to move toward creating a society where persons with disabilities and those who choose to stay in their homes as they age can do so with dignity and independence. We therefore urge the Governor and the Legislature to restore adequate funding to the services that are so necessary to our members’ desire to live and age in their own homes and communities. We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature on these issues in the coming months.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org ; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a bilingual news source. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org .
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