Home-care providers and their clients from across the state will rally at the Federal Courthouse in Oakland (1301 Clay Street) today in advance of a court hearing on a lawsuit to prevent more than 100,000 low-income seniors and the disabled from losing critical in-home care services.
Advocates for seniors and people with disabilities along with the UDW Home-care Providers Union (AFSCME Local 3930) and three Service Employees International Union (SEIU) locals will participate in the 9:15 a.m. rally. Four public interest law firms: Disability Rights California, Disability Rights Legal Center, National Health Law Program and National Senior Citizens Law Center, have joined the two unions in the lawsuit.
The cuts in the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program are scheduled to take effect November 1. At least 40,000 people will lose home-care services entirely, and nearly 100,000 more will have their services cut deeply. IHSS services have helped keep frail seniors and those with disabilities at home rather than forcing them into far-more-costly nursing homes or other institutions.
Cutting IHSS puts people's lives at risk, says home-care provider Ed Huddleston of Merced, in remarks prepared for the rally.
"An elderly woman who can cook and clean will be thrown out of IHSS even if she has Alzheimer's' Disease," Huddleston says. "But without her home-care provider, she will forget things...Someday, she's going to leave the gas on and burn down her house and maybe die...And when it does happen, it's on you, Gov. Schwarzenegger, and on the cowardly politicians from both parties who supported these terrible cuts."
Their federal lawsuit claims the cutbacks will violate federal constitutional due process protections, the Medicaid Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. "Instead of using each consumer's individual needs to determine what services they need, the governor and his supporters are cutting services the quick-and-dirty way," says UDW President Laura Reyes of San Diego. Reyes' union represents 65,000 home care providers throughout California.
The 65,000 member UDW/AFSCME is the only union in California made up entirely of home care workers who care for low income elderly, blind and disabled citizens under California's In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program. IHSS is designed to be a cost effective, more personal, alternative to nursing homes.
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