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Disabled and Elderly California Residents Saved from Cut in Benefits

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-10-22 (Rev. 2010-04-10) - 130,000 disabled and elderly California residents breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday. For further information pertaining to this article contact:
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130,000 disabled and elderly California residents breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday as a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against a measure that would have slashed their health benefits dramatically beginning as early as Nov 1st.

Federal District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the written notice sent to the 130,000 disabled and elderly California residents gave too little time for those affected to appeal and was too hard to understand.

It is estimated that 40,000 of the 130,000 disabled and elderly California residents that would have been affected by the measure would have lost services like in home meal preparation, food shopping, cleaning, and assistance to medical appointments altogether while the remaining 90,000 disabled and elderly Californians would have seen a sharp cut in their benefits.

Judge Wilken ordered that a letter be sent out explaining that the proposed cuts will not take place on Nov 1st as initially planned although there is still the possibility that the cuts will take place at some point in the future.

Disability Rights California senior counsel Melinda Bird, representing the disabled and elderly plaintiffs in this case is seeking for a definitive answer from the state that the cuts will not take place at a later date.

The cuts were initially approved by both the California Legislature and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this past summer. The determination for which California residents would receive a reduction in disabled benefits would be decided based on an algorithm tied to a newly conceived IHSS "Functional Index" score. This algorithm seeks to rate each disabled and elderly individual in 11 different categories and then arrive at an aggregate score. Critics of the IHSS "Functional Index" score expressed concern that the score is much too uncertain and should not be relied upon to make hard and fast decisions as to who should receive care and who should not receive care.

While the cuts were designed to save the state upwards of $80 million dollars through 2010 there is also some concerns about how many of the disabled and elderly individuals who had their benefits cut would be forced to rely on potentially very costly private health insurance providers or even be institutionalized at a greater cost to the State of California.

Health insurance providers in California have remained silent on the issue as there is still uncertainty from the Judge about whether the cuts will become a reality in the coming months.

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