IHSS is EVERYONE’S Safety Net
We are fighting to save IHSS for all Californians
Every poll ever taken has indicated that Californians want homecare funded. Taxpayers are aware of the horrific conditions in low-cost institutions. We do not want our loved ones relegated to these places, but many do not have the resources to pay for higher cost facilities. We want supported homecare as an option for ourselves or our loved ones should disability or aging make fundamental living assistance necessary.
Through our work in Sacramento, UDW Homecare Providers Union is working to make sure your legislators GET THAT MESSAGE.
And it’s a tough battle.
Every year, we are forced to use every resource available just to stop homecare from being obliterated. We held rallies, talked to legislators, organized campaigns, brought providers and clients to Sacramento, testified at hearings, wrote articles in the press and letters to legislators – so that Californians can make an informed choice about homecare. Many people really don’t know what they might lose.
Furthermore, some people have bought in to the unfair and misleading rhetoric spread by the governor and his allies, that characterized the IHSS program as having “widespread fraud.”
UDW Homecare Providers Union makes every effort to bring those facts to the right people. We hire analysts to study proposed laws and how they will impact home care workers, and prepare reports to show the people who pass these laws, why it is important to fund home care. UDW is part of the IHSS Homecare Coalition, a network of many organizations that advocate for the low income elderly, disabled and blind. We joined with some of these advocates to bring lawsuits against some of the cuts to IHSS that were voted in by the California legislature during the 2009-10 budget. We believe that many of these reductions are not only immoral and fiscally irresponsible (will NOT save taxpayers money), but that many are literally illegal. Due to these lawsuits, federal judges have temporarily stopped some of the cuts, agreeing that they may not be within the law.
The “state budget” is supposed to be a legal process, voted on by an informed legislature. Below is an overview of that process, and a short history of how the State budget has impacted the IHSS program in recent years. Following that is a list of recent and current legislation that may influence the IHSS program and home care workers.
The State Budget Process
Counties depend on state and federal funding for your wages. That money comes only as long as the politicians in Sacramento and Washington agree that “home care” is something they should spend tax money on.
Each year the Governor submits a budget proposal to the legislature for their review and approval. The Department of Finance and Legislative Analyst’s Office give updates on changes in the money the state is receiving and spending. These revisions are reflected in the updated version of the Governors’ budget called the “May Revise”. The May Revise is a good indication of what the final version of the State budget will look like.
The budget is studied by legislators in the Senate and Assembly budget committees who also hold hearings for input from the public (this is when unions and various advocates plan rallies to tell elected representatives how they feel about the budget).
After the proposed budget goes through the Senate and Assembly budget committees, it is given to all 120 members of the legislature for the vote.
If the Senate and the Assembly cannot reach agreement on certain provisions of the proposed budget, the Republican and Democratic leaders from each chamber meet with the governor to reconcile these unresolved issues. This group is often referred to as the “Big 5.” In recent years with crisis deficit problems and delayed budgets, many feel that the democratic balance of the process has undergone a fundamental and dangerous shift in the way the state budget is created.
When the voting process is finally completed the budget is given back to the Governor with any changes that legislators might have made. The Governor may then use his “veto” power to make certain specific types of changes. The Schwarzenegger administration has come under fire in recent budget cycles for using this power beyond his real authority.
2002: the Legislative Analyst recommended eliminating payment for homecare workers who are relatives of IHSS consumers, as well as the “advance pay” option, whereby some IHSS workers are able to be paid in advance. UDW together with representatives and members of the aged, blind and disabled community, came together to lobby heavily against this proposal. Working together, we ensured that the Legislature would turn down this recommendation.
2003: when California was in the depths of its fiscal crisis, Governor Davis proposed that increased responsibility for a number of programs be “realigned” to the state. Among these was the IHSS program. This proposal failed. The Governor also recommended that California suspend state participation in increased IHSS wages. UDW opposed this proposal.
2004: Governor Schwarzenegger proposed reducing the IHSS caseload by 62.4 million hours of care, eliminating or curtailing services for 75,000 seniors and people with disabilities and cutting $881.3 million in funding—35% of the entire caseload. Part of this sweeping cut, was again to eliminate payment for homecare workers who are relatives of IHSS consumers. Fortunately, UDW along with the disability community and other stakeholders succeeded in showing that this proposal was not only heartless but fiscally irresponsible. UDW and their staff reported on the impact of this disastrous proposal, showing that it would end up costing more. We worked with the Governor to secure a federal waiver enabling California to receive funding for 50% of the costs of the “residual” population. When the waiver was approved, Governor Schwarzenegger then agreed to continue funding the state share of the residual program.
2005: Governor Schwarzenegger proposed reducing the state participation in the IHSS program to $6.75 an hour and eliminating health benefits. We told the Governor that doing so would leave about 17,000 clients without services, force at least 4,000 recipients into nursing homes, and cause 19,000 of our members to fall into poverty rolls. Then we showed the Governor that reducing our member’s wages to $6.75 an hour would not save the state money. It would increase the cost to the state by $100 million by forcing some people into nursing homes because $6.75 an hour would not attract new providers and force some existing providers to quit . Once again, UDW along with help from the disability community and other stakeholders were able to get Governor Schwarzenegger to change his mind and continue funding wages at their current level.
2006: Governor Schwarzenegger, for the most part, spared the IHSS program from major reductions. The budget fully funded IHSS wages and benefits. However, UDW will continue to monitor the Governor’s Quality Assurance Initiative, which the Governor has proposed to standardize how hours are approved for the IHSS program throughout this state. UDW along with other stakeholders have asked the Administration about the projected reduction in funds associated with implementation of the Quality Assurance Initiative. The Administration maintains their commitment to develop Hourly Task Guidelines that do not have a pre-designed outcome to either increase or reduce IHSS hours but intend to prevent the “geographic differences between counties in the approval of IHSS hours.” However, considering the large cost reductions projected with “Quality Assurance” we are continuing to monitor this initiative.
2007: Schwarzenegger was back to reducing funds for the IHSS program. In 2007 the Governor attacked IHSS providers’ wages and benefits two ways: in the budget and with legislation which proposed to “freeze” state participation in IHSS wages and benefits. Then he introduced legislation (SB 782, Cogdill) which proposed to do the same thing. Thanks to the lobbying and protests organized by UDW and IHSS stakeholders sb782 failed to pass, and the program was saved from cuts.
2008: Again, with California’s budget in crises, the governor proposed drastic cuts to IHSS; the worst reductions ever suggested since the inception of IHSS. He proposed to permanently eliminate certain domestic and related services for some consumers, cause others to pay an increased monthly share of cost out of their own pockets, and withdraw state funding that would cause provider wages to be reduced to minimum wage – $8.00 per hour in all counties regardless of any past gains made through negotiations. UDW, together with a coalition of other community activists stepped up their political involvement and held protests all over the state and particularly in Sacramento. On September 23rd after the longest budget stand-off in the history of the state, Schwarzenegger finally signed the budget without the above cuts to IHSS.
2009: UDW joins lawsuit to stop terrible state budget cuts. Due to the nationwide fiscal crisis, a historic state deficit, and a governor that spread propaganda and misinformation about “massive fraud” in IHSS, the UDW has had to fight sizable reductions to IHSS voted in by the state legislature. Cuts included the capping of wages at $9.50 (plus health benefit), the elimination of state participation in “share of cost” funding, and eligibility terminations for thousands of consumers based on “Functional Index” (FI) Scores. As 2009 came to an end, wage reductions and termination of consumers based on FI scores were temporarily halted through lawsuits launched by UDW and other activists.
2010: UDW was a leader of the historic March for California’s Future, a 48-day, 350-mile march from Bakersfield to Sacramento to protest unfair budget cuts and help restore the California Dream. We fought back against the Schwarzenegger administration’s proposed cuts to wages and services in the IHSS program that at one point included a proposal to abolish the program completely. We won most of these battles, in the end IHSS was only cut by 3.6%.
2011: CA faced an unprecedented $25.4 billion budget deficit. Once again, the IHSS program faced devastating reductions, however cost-saving alternatives, such as the Community First Choice Option and the Medication Dispensing Machine Pilot Project, were able to offset many of the Governor’s proposed cuts. The remaining shortfall was set to be resolved with “trigger” cuts that would be implemented if the state fell below expected revenue predictions. When revenues ultimately fell short, the “trigger” was pulled to reduce IHSS hours by 20%. Thankfully at the close of 2011, the 20% cut in service hours was not implemented because UDW and other advocate groups filed a lawsuit and requested a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the cuts from going into affect.