California is once again mired in a budget standoff and in home care support services seems to be stuck in the debate. The In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program in the state is designed to help keep people in their homes as opposed to nursing home care or other costlier options.
The problem California is facing at the moment, though, is between the state and counties. The debate focuses on how to spread the cost of IHSS services between the state and counties. The state, dealing with ever increasing expenses for a wide range of programs, is aiming to push more of the cost of these in home care services onto the counties, but there is pushback.
This wrangling isn’t just about the current climate, but also looking forward to 2030 and beyond, when approximately 25 percent of the state’s population is expected to be elderly.
On top of that, the state’s minimum wage is increasing to $15 per hour, and that’s adding billions to the state budget demands.
According to Melanie Mason, writing for the LA Times in the news article, An in-home care program for California’s elderly and disabled is constantly at the heart of budget battles. Here’ why:
“Once fully phased in, the increased minimum wage is expected to cost the state more than $1.2 billion just for the IHSS program, according to Department of Finance projections. Compounding the costs are federal labor regulations that went into effect in 2016 that require overtime pay for home care workers.
Other changes from Washington could have more dramatic impact. The now-stalled Republican healthcare overhaul included a drastic restructuring of Medicaid financing. Proposals such as block grants, which cap how much money the federal government would provide to states, could mean a more existential threat to IHSS as an entitlement program.
“It’s really hard to predict what is going to happen at the federal level at this point,” Thomson said.”
With so many unanswered questions, with the SEIU advocating for increased wages and benefits, and a state still wrangling with tremendous debt, it’s not just about what will happen at the federal level that has many concerned about these issues.
Without a concrete, reasonable budget and a better idea of the long-term costs of in home care and how the state or counties will pay for it, these in home care aides and other workers will continue to worry about the integrity of this program into the future.
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